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A HAPO posture harness tested in the operating room

In the absence of clear statistics on MSDs in the orthopedics profession, we can rely on professional news and experiments carried out by certain specialists. Recently, Doctor Pierre Diviné, orthopedic surgeon at the CHP de l’Europe (78), evaluated the effectiveness of an innovative solution developed by ErgoSanté.

With the agreement of the Council of the Order of Physicians, this surgeon equipped himself with a HAPO, passive physical assistance, during an intervention in the operating room. After a first test, Doctor Pierre Diviné reports “real relief from lower back pain” and “a real sensation of mechanical assistance”. The surgeon repeated the exercise during two other operations, with the same results.

The experiment carried out in the Center Hospitalier de l’Europe in Port Marly is not the first of its kind in the healthcare professions. The HAPO has already been the subject of other trials in real conditions by dental practices, surgeons and home nurses. All these tests conclude that the exoskeleton is truly useful for repetitive gestures, genuflections, carrying heavy loads and relieving back constraints.

Comparable results are reported by forklift drivers, winegrowers, construction workers and logisticians who have tried ErgoSanté exoskeletons. The successful trial at the Center Hospitalier de l’Europe in Port Marly suggests the possibility of improving the working conditions of orthopedic surgeons.

Lightweight, easy to maintain and compact, the HAPO posture harness meets all the criteria for ideal physical assistance for a demanding profession.

Doctors never get sick, it seems. This may be true for viral diseases and infections. The figures show that caregivers develop a veritable arsenal of antibodies against these ailments.

On the other hand, the situation is more nuanced regarding musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Statistics show a real vulnerability of healthcare workers – particularly surgeons – to these muscular diseases. Posture harnesses or physical assistance devices (DAP) from ErgoSanté accompany them in their daily activities.

The affected spine, elbows and shoulders

The list of reported pathologies that can lead to pain and therefore loss of manual/general skills is long:

  • Low back pain (56% of orthopedists)
  • Neck pain (42%)
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis (33%)
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (33%)
  • Lateral epicondylitis (30%)
  • Plantar fasciitis (29%)
  • Osteoarthritis of the basilar joint (28%)

Other conditions reported by less than 30% of respondents included cubital tunnel syndrome, sciatica, lumbar or cervical radiculopathy, trigger finger, biceps tendonitis, DeQuervain's tenosynovitis, epicondylitis medial and damage to the acromioclavicular joint.

Despite the absence of serious studies on the issue in France, we can say with more or less certainty that MSDs constitute a real health problem for orthopedic surgeons. The use of solutions is therefore necessary, even essential, to support these health professionals. The trials recently carried out by the Europe Hospital Center in Port Marly could inspire the profession.

Beyond Pain: Understanding MSD

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are diseases that affect the joints, muscles and tendons due, in particular, to biomechanical overburden.

Given their high prevalence (they represent 87% of occupational diseases in France) and their impacts both for employees (sequelles...) and for companies (absentery, lower productivity, health insurance premiums...), it is necessary to put in place concrete actions to remedy them.

Among these, it is possible to turn to the exoskeletons.

MSD, a silent evil among surgeons

The prevalence of MSDs among caregivers cannot be ignored. Three major American articles (1), carried out between 2021 and 2022, show that 90% of orthopedic surgeons have suffered from at least one musculoskeletal disorder since the start of their career.

In the operating room, orthopedists are faced with:

  • Repetitive movements;
  • Intense muscular energy;
  • Prolonged standing;
  • Maintaining non-ergonomic positions;
  • And the resulting muscle fatigue. 

What is an exoskeleton?

Exoskeletal Physical Assistance Devices are ergonomic solutions that, as their name suggests, aim to reduce the biomechanical demands of workers.

Carried on the body as a backpack, these exoskeletons are completely passive (no engines, cylinders or other electronics) and operate with a principle of storage-restitution of energy through composite springs.

Concretely, the exoskeletons developed by ErgoHealth make it possible to facilitate work, reduce fatigue, preserve health and maintain employment.

HAPO: the exoskeleton that relieves the back on demand

The HAPO is a passive physical support device that operates with composite spring rods that allows a partial transfer of efforts from the top of the trunk (by pectoral support), to the thighs.

Both light (1.2 kg) and discreet, HAPO has been designed to help workers reduce lumbar physical load and thus preserve intervertebral discs.

Optimal situations for the use of HAPO exoskeleton are those that require a "fronted" posture" static or dynamic tasks.

Useable both outdoors and indoors, the HAPO has the particularity of being disconnectable in such a way that it can sit in an equipment or climb stairs without any discomfort and security.

In laboratory tests, it was shown that, compared to an exoskeletal situation, the HAPO allowed to reduce approximately -20 % the solicitation of back muscles.

HAPO FRONT: the exoskeleton dedicated to repetitive tasks in front of one

The HAPO FRONT is a physical support device for relieve upper limbs, shoulders. Thanks to its two composite spring rods surmounted by two double interfaces, the HAPO FRONT maintains the user’s arms in a working position, face to face.

Its design made simple and intuitive makes HAPO FRONT a particularly suitable solution for any work posing repeated manipulation objects prolonged arm retention in front of you or all postures "arm forward impacting the members of the upper body. Tested in laboratory by a team of biomechanics, HAPO FRONT has proven to be particularly effective for reduce shoulder constraints: -15% muscle solicitation associated with this joint (with blue springs) compared to an identical situation made without exoskeleton.