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exoRise: Revision Patient Transfer

Team Members:
  • Rowan Cade
  • Tom Bernstein
  • Emily McNally
  • Kevin Moon
  • Brooke Mahoski
  • Lexie Scholtz
  • Zhou Li
  • Sue Min Cho
  • Scott Paul, MD
  • Robert Allen, PhD
  • Michelle Zwerneman, MSE
  • Anita Stone, MS, HEM


Healthcare workers, particularly nurses and nursing assistants, endure some of the highest rates of occupational musculoskeletal injury and the most missed workdays due to these injuries. Patient-handling events, including lifting, repositioning, and transferring, result in a third of the total number of lost workdays. Hospitals face significant monetary ramifications that arise from these injuries. Considering only neck, back, and shoulder injuries among nursing assistants, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses, hospitals spend $1.5 billion annually on affected healthcare workers’ compensation, lawsuits, and medical bills.

Compliance is the key issue here. Although there are lifts available for use, they are bulky and time consuming, and therefore inconvenient. For these reasons, nurses often opt for manual transfer, at which point, the nurse is at risk for musculoskeletal injury. Biomechanically, there is no way to manually transfer a patient without putting the nurse at risk for injury, regardless of their technique or posture. To address this, a solution must complete the transfer process promptly, be intuitive and convenient to operate, and be easily accessible to integrate seamlessly into the normal hospital workflow.

With the aforementioned requirements in mind, we developed our device, exoRise, a sit-to-stand patient transfer assistive device in the form of coupled knee braces that are placed on the patient to augment their own strength. Our prototype is small in size, permitting ease of use, and features a quick and simple attachment system. The two braces are fixed to the patient via ratchet straps, which are mounted on adjustable cuffs to fit a variety of leg sizes. The cuffs fit to a lightweight frame featuring behind-the-leg supports that distribute the pressure on the legs during transfer. The frame houses two linear actuators per brace. The linear actuators act on a lever arm to apply torque only about the knee in order to cause the patient to rise from sitting to standing. The linear actuators are connected and controlled via one Arduino control system. We plan on testing our device with mechanical bench testing of the prototype and user interface testing with health care workers as participants, pending IRB approval. Because of its f ocus on empowering the patient and encouraging nurse compliance, exoRise stands out in the crowded field of patient transfer devices as a solution that is not only effective but will be widely adopted and used in a clinical setting.

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