Virginia Mason Hospital & Seattle Medical Center have developed a “therapy car” built to be used by its physical and occupational therapists to help patients post-hip and knee replacement simulate getting in and out of a real vehicle. The technology aims to help prevent falls or injury in this population.

Watch the therapy car in action

A news release issued by Virginia Mason Medical Center states that concurrently, the US Patent and Trademark Office is also reviewing the organization’s application for a patent on the invention.

The therapy car weighs less than 150 pounds and is comprised of lightweight plastic tubing and connectors to provide a range of configurations to help patients practice mobility. The car includes a cushioned car-like passenger seat and the device’s height can be adjusted to correspond with the type of vehicle the patient is likely to transfer in and out of when they leave the hospital.

Deborah Cutchin, director, Virginia Mason Kaizen Promotion Office, explains, “Until our team developed the therapy car, none of our patients was able to realistically practice getting in and out of a vehicle before they actually got into one to go home after surgery.”

The project, says Todd Inslee, technology transfer director, Virginia Mason Intellectual Property Ventures, exemplifies the Virginia Mason Production System principle of “innovate your own solutions.”

“We used innovation and creativity to efficiently develop a unique resource that meets a unique need of our orthopedic patients,” Inslee notes.

Several physical and occupational therapists, a patient transporter, a patient care technician, and a specialist from the Virginia Mason Kaizen Promotion Office collaborated during a 2-day workshop to design a prototype of the device.

The release states that the Virginia Mason Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department team members are still considering a formal name for the “therapy car” and continue to solicit ideas from patients about how the device might be improved.

[Source: Virginia Mason Medical Center]