Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Arizona led a study that can help surgeons use wearable tech to obtain biofeedback of their posture during long surgical procedures. Ultimately, the aim is to reduce the stress associated with maintaining static postures while operating and prevent injury.

Study Overview: Wearable Tech for Posture Assessment

Published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, this pilot study evaluated the feasibility of using wearable technology to assess the posture of neurosurgeons during long spine and cranial procedures. The findings show that wearable technology is a feasible and reproducible approach to provide objective feedback necessary to raise postural awareness and implement protocols focused on correcting posture to prevent musculoskeletal issues in surgeons.

Key Findings: Impact on Surgeon Posture

Identifying and Correcting Poor Posture

“Wearable technology can identify those periods when neglected postures are more prevalent, enabling prompt correction,” says first author of the work, Alejandro Zulbaran-Rojas, MD, research associate in the Michael E DeBakey Department of Surgery.

Although neurosurgeons are aware that static postures cause significant harm, the methodology for assessing their posture is suboptimal. The present study used wearable technology to quantify neurosurgeon upper body spasticity, or muscle stiffness, either when leaning forward or backward.

Quantifying Upper Body Spasticity

The study involved ten neurosurgeons, including both attendings and trainees, who were equipped with sensors on their head and upper back. These sensors measured the time spent in various static postures during surgeries, revealing that surgeons remained in static positions for a substantial portion of the procedures.

Posture Patterns and Surgeon Height

Interestingly, the research indicated that taller surgeons tended to spend more time in flexed and extended positions during cranial surgeries. This suggests that personalized biofeedback could help surgeons adjust their posture based on their height and the specific surgical procedure.

Benefits of Wearable Tech in Surgery

Enhanced Surgeon Health and Performance

Bijan Najafi, PhD, MSc, professor in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery and the study’s corresponding author, highlighted the significant implications of these findings. He says Wearable technology offers a proactive approach to preventing musculoskeletal disorders, which can improve surgeons’ overall health, performance, and career longevity.

Transforming Surgical Training

The data collected from wearable sensors can also inform personalized training programs. This could improve surgical education by helping novice surgeons develop optimal postural habits early in their careers.

Future Directions: Expanding Wearable Tech Use

Further research is needed to explore the application of this technology in other medical specialties. The study’s success opens the door to broader implementation, potentially benefiting a wide range of healthcare professionals.


This study received partial support from Baylor College of Medicine and the Interdisciplinary Consortium on Advanced Motion Performance (iCAMP). Additional funding was granted by the National Institute on Aging award no. R44-AG061951-02.

Featured image: Dreamstime