You Can Get There From Here With These New Mobility Aids


State-of-the-art technology may soon make its presence felt in the home, battlefield, and even the pediatrician’s office

Wichita State University researchers, under a $1.4 million U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command grant, have developed a fast-setting splint that provides improved stabilization of legs and arms injured on the battlefield. The device molds to the injured limb and then hardens to a stiff, protective, and custom-shaped splint that is light and works in any environment.

An ortho-oncology team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center successfully adapted the shoulder surgical aid Spider Limb Positioner to conduct a left- hip disarticulation on a 64-year-old patient who had melanoma on a toe. Spider Limb is a pneumatic arm with three fully articulating joints that can be variously adjusted in relation to the operating table where it is mounted. The positioner mobilizes patients’ limbs so that surgeons don’t have to, thereby freeing their hands to operate. The connection bar, normally outfitted with a soft disposable arm cuff to hold and stabilize the lower arm, was modified to accommodate the leg where the cancer was confined.

Pediatric spine correction

Medtronic has launched its Shilla Growth Guidance System, a new technology that allows correction of a deformity while maintaining the correction. The system is designed for the treatment of skeletally immature pediatric patients ages ≤10 diagnosed with severe and progressive, life-threatening, early-onset spinal deformities. It uses a unique nonlocking set screw at the proximal and distal portions of the construct’s rod, which allows the rod to slide as a child’s spine grows while correcting the deformity.

Real-time blood loss estimates

Gauss Surgical has announced that the first patient cases have been completed using the Triton Fluid Management System at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh.

Gauss Surgical’s Triton Fluid Management System

The system, approved by the FDA in May, provides accurate and instant estimates of blood loss on surgical sponges during Cesarean section surgeries, a cause for concern as the maternal death rate in the U.S. creeps upward — it is now more than double what it was 25 years ago. Triton uses an iPad camera to scan blood-covered surgical sponges. The data are analyzed by Internet-based programs using algorithms that estimate the amount of blood on the sponge surfaces, and the results are immediately sent back to the operating room.

Easing chemotherapy

Patients undergoing chemotherapy can rein in the severity of their symptoms and stress with the help of a Web-based assessment tool called ESRA-C II (Electronic Self-Report Assessment – Cancer). When a patient reports high levels of pain or other severe symptoms, the program prompts the patient to contact his or her physician.

If pain and symptoms are not severe, the program provides self-care information, depending on symptoms reported by the patient. In a randomized clinical trial conducted by investigators at Harvard Medical School and the University of Washington, 752 patients with more than 15 types of cancer were free to use the ESRA-C software to evaluate their symptoms at home or in a clinic for about eight weeks. Patients in the intervention group had an average Symptom Distress Scale pain score that was 1.2 points lower than the control group. The scale has five levels.

Products reshuffled

Boston Scientific’s $415 million acquisition of Bayer AG’s interventional division gives Boston access to several devices for the treatment of peripheral vascular disease. Included are the AngioJet Thrombectomy System, the Fetch 2 Aspiration Catheter for removing blood clots, and the JetStream Atherectomy System to remove plaque from peripheral arteries.