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ERGONOMIC INSTRUMENTS DEVELOPMENT FOR HIP SURGERY. AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH ON ORTHOPAEDIC IMPLANTS DESIGN

Final Report Summary - ENHIP (Ergonomic instruments development for hip surgery. An innovative approach on orthopaedic implants design)

Nowadays surgical procedures for implanting hip prostheses are going from traditional protocols, where instrumentation and product design provoke an important time and effort to surgeons in operating theatre, to a new scenario where minimally invasive surgery is substituting progressively old techniques. In both cases designs of instruments are relevant to simplify tasks to be done during the intervention as well as to improve working conditions of surgeons.

Nevertheless, although the great importance of instrumentation, low efforts have been devoted in the past to improve design of instruments, so surgeons are obliged to work with instruments which do not fulfil basic ergonomic criteria. The aim of the project ENHIP was to design instruments for hip surgery under a new point of view, the ergonomics. These new designs were obtained thanks to a list of specifications that had been generated during the project. Therefore, the application of these design guidelines assures the accomplishment of basic ergonomics rules, and this way to improve working conditions of surgeons during the operation.

The main objectives of ENHIP were:
- to develop new instruments for surgery that will provide an important advantage to the implant manufacturers, thanks to the added value obtained through the ergonomic features applied to them.
- to improve surgeons' working conditions by developing a new generation of instruments to be used in hip surgery. These instruments should be designed under ergonomics design criteria to improve current tools, which are based only on functionality and durability.
- to improve patients' quality of life thanks to a reduction of the operation length due to an easier use of instruments designed ergonomically.
- to improve patients' quality of life by offering a new generation of MIS instruments to implant manufacturers that will reduce postoperative problems of the patients.
To achieve these objectives it was necessary to create a consortium formed by partners who covered the industrial chain of innovative surgical instruments, RTD centres, SMEs, instruments distributors and hospitals.

Exploitable knowledge emerged from the project is divided in two main groups: knowledge having a future potential for further research activities which will permit industrial application, and knowledge transferred to the SMEs involved in the project, that is being and will be exploited throughout their commercial routes and channels, given them competitive advantage and improving surgeons working conditions.

The main figure related to the use of the emerged knowledge of the project has been the exploitation committee, which has acted as the figure responsible for the industrial and commercial exploitation of the ergonomic instruments. It's important to remark that, during the development of the project, no kind of conflict related to intellectual property rights has appeared between partners, so the participation from this committee to manage this possible situation wasn't required. Related to the role of the SMEs, LAFITT has been in charge of the coordination of the industrial and commercial exploitation of the ergonomic instruments, as the company already spreads over its product in many countries and has consolidated international marketing experience.

On the other hand, Evolutis, Landmark, Salgado and VBM have supported the exploitation of results, through their extensive whole of clients in Europe. Each of the companies has its distributors on its own country and they cover a great area of the European territory.

ENHIP project has generated a lot of important information that is useful for end-users (surgeons), for RTDs and SMEs. Thus, dissemination of the project results is contributing to the European technology progress for the following main reasons:
- The ergonomic hip surgical instruments significantly contribute to better working conditions of surgeons when they perform hip surgeries at hospitals.
- The transfer of knowledge from the RTD performers towards the SME partners has contributed to increase the confidence and use of European innovation in the surgical implants and medical devices market.
- The know-how and techniques developed and implemented within the project have given the developers an excellent position in the world market scenario.

The exploitation committee has played a key role in establishing which information was suitable for wider dissemination, while the RTD performers have taken the responsibility for disseminating the non-commercial scientific aspects of the work, and implants companies have defined routes and facilities for maximising the impact of project dissemination in the technical environment and among the enterprises. Of course, the dissemination of the results of the project has been and will be restricted to those results that are not confidential. In the first half of the project, dissemination of the information about the project was limited to the distribution of publishable abstracts, as contractually required for EU RTD projects, in order to don't endanger the industrial interests of the industrial partners. Furthermore, an easy-to-use Internet Website was created.

Finally it was also designed a poster that was delivered to all partners in order to be used to promote the project during all congress, trade fairs and commercial exhibitions they attended. During the second half of the project, the RTD performers have continued providing support in the preparation of general articles about the objectives of the ENHIP project, and working on the results achieved to be published in scientific magazines. The project has been presented in different forums, as European congresses of the field and other forums related to orthopaedic surgery and joint biomechanics.

At the end of the project one workshop has been organised between Lafitt and IBV. In this congress (SECOT 2007) a selected panel of leader surgeons of different European hospitals from different countries have been introduced to the new ergonomics instruments. With this action, the project has been made more visible to the potential users outside the consortium. During all duration of the project, the public side of the web site has been used as a dissemination platform, where all the public information coming from the project has been also accessible to third parties. Besides these specific actions, the participation of the information and communication area of IBV, as well as office for transfer of technology of the centre has been essential to disseminate the project to general public and some specific groups (especially medical sector), taking advantage of their previous experience and contacts within press media.

Major dissemination activities developed are the following ones:
- More than 20 articles, press releases were published in mass media.
- Different articles and press releases were written and published in specialised journals in order to start exposing the product.
- Partners assisted to congresses, scientific meetings and oral communications.
- As a summary, dissemination activities were addressed to different purposes.

RTD members prepared scientific papers in order to publish main knowledge and results obtained during the project. SMEs and distributors performed workshops with their commercial staff to teach them how to explain to their clients the innovative improvements incorporated to new instruments. Hospitals informed their surgeons about results of the project and benefits that these results can bring to their work. Posters, demonstrators and workshops were prepared to advertise the project during congresses to introduce the instruments to surgeons and commercial staff from SMEs companies, and finally, different papers were prepared in order to disseminate results of the project to the scientific community.

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