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Robots have been entering hospitals for materials handling, checking in patients, and surgical procedures, as well as for therapeutic use. PTR Robots has been working with healthcare professionals at a university hospital and a nursing home to develop a mobile robot that can help move patients and and rehabilitate them.
Worldwide, lifting injuries account for a third of all occupational injuries among nurses, and there has been a global shortage of nurses and healthcare workers, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, reported the World Health Organization.
In the U.S., registered nurses experienced injuries requiring days away from work at a rate of 104.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2016, in comparison with the rate for all occupations of 91.7 cases per 10,000 workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Overexertion and bodily reaction” accounted for 45.6% of cases because nurses are often required to lift patients.
One out of every four bedridden patients in a typical hospital is not self-reliant and therefore needs assistance from staffers for transfers and rehabilitation. This need is even more pronounced at nursing homes, said PTR Robots. The company said today that its robot can enable caregivers to better handle patient transfers and gait training. By reducing strain and the need to rely on colleagues, PTR’s system can also reduce potential exposure to infection, said the startup.
Blue Ocean develops PTR system
PTR Robots is a subsidiary of Odense, Denmark-based Blue Ocean Robotics ApS. The “venture factory” develops commercial service robots and spins off units to commercialize them. Blue Ocean’s other companies include disinfection robot maker UVD Robots, telepresence provider GoBe Robots, and feeding robot maker Mink Robots.
“At Blue Ocean Robotics, we’ve built up profound domain knowledge of service robots, and we proudly note that our solutions are a natural component of daily tasks at workplaces in more than 60 countries,” stated Claus Risager, CEO of Blue Ocean Robotics. “With PTR Robots, we have created a brand-new product category in the area of patient transfers and rehabilitation.”
“The testing of PTR Robots really impressed us,” said Søren Andersen, managing director of Attendo. “We can see interesting perspectives in the way we can assist residents and patients with care and rehabilitation, but there are also interesting perspectives in terms of improving the work environment,”
Every day, there are numerous situations in the healthcare and nursing sectors where patients have to be transferred, said PTR. They include from a bed to a wheelchair, from a wheelchair to a toilet or shower chair, and in emergencies after an accidental fall or from an ambulance stretcher to a hospital bed.
In addition, PTR said its system is designed to reduce in size so it can easily fit through an ordinary doorway, making it more flexible than traditional, stationary ceiling hoists.
Hospitals look to a future with robots
Increasing numbers of patients will need assistance, predicted Helle Gaub, project director at the new university hospital in Køge, Denmark.
“When making a large investment in new hospital buildings, developing an innovative approach to lifting technology is essential in creating a flexible deliverance of healthcare,” she said. “Being able to lift and move patients in all rooms and areas is essential for an effective use of resources, and this is why we at Zealand University Hospital prioritize being a partner in developing solutions of future healthcare.”
PTR Robots said its system’s rehabilitation functions are just as important as its lifting ones because they can help patients be more self-reliant in everyday routines. These situations include gait training after a stroke, where the robot can be set up to bear more or less of a patient’s body weight.
At Vonsildhave Nursing Home, the management sees great potential in the PTR Robots:
“The robot instills a sense of dignity in the patients simply because it can make many more transfers with greater flexibility,” noted Ditte Korsager, center director at Vonsildhave Nursing Home. “I am particularly pleased with the rehabilitating function because it gives residents such a high level of freedom. They can train in their own surroundings with their customary caregivers and other residents.”
“Also, they do this in the setting they are accustomed to residing and living in,” she said. “At the same time, their enhanced mobility is enormously valuable for the residents’ well-being and quality of life.”
“Many nursing homes, hospitals and institutions are keenly interested in our patient transfer and rehabilitation robot,” said Lone Jager Lindquist, the newly named CEO of PTR Robots, who has experience in the medical equipment industry. “If an elderly person breaks his or her hip, the robot can help him or her stand up right after the operation. The robot also accompanies the patient when taking the first steps after surgery.”