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Automated Patient-Turning Device Earns Protolabs' Cool Idea Award

The system allows patients to be moved into an optimal therapeutic position with the help of one or two caregivers instead of six to eight.

Geoff Giordano

May 29, 2022

The plastics industry notched a number of high-profile victories during the COVID-19 pandemic by ramping up production of test swabs and protective equipment. Now, Turn Medical has introduced its Pronova-O2 automated prone therapy system — so innovative it has earned the Cool Ideas Award from Protolabs.

The programmable Pronova-O2 allows patients with certain lung and heart issues to be moved into an optimal therapeutic position by only one or two caregivers, as opposed to the usual six to eight this usually requires. Turning patients who have been bedridden for days or weeks into a face-down prone position helps them breathe better by relieving the weight of the heart and abdomen on fluid-filled lungs. This is particularly important for patients on a ventilator.

As hospitals struggled during the pandemic, nurses suffered burnout — and many left or plan to leave the profession. The Pronova-O2 aims to address this by easing the physical burden on caregivers who can strain their back and neck muscles when repeatedly executing patient-turning maneuvers. During the pandemic, nurses typically manually turn 16 to 20 patients a day.

“The goal of the Cool Idea Award program is to help bring to market the inventive ideas that have the potential to make a sizeable impact in their field,” said Brent Renneke, Public Relations and Media Strategist for Protolabs. “The Pronova-O2 improves both the quality of care for respiratory patients while offering relief to medical staff. We’re proud our on-demand digital manufacturing services were able to play a role in the development of the product from prototyping to production, and look forward to seeing its impact at hospitals across the country.”

The Pronova-O2 is made of ABS and nylon, said Kevin Wilson, Turn Medical’s Chief Technical Officer and lead design engineer.

“We worked with Protolabs to determine which of their standard resins to use based on price, performance, and availability,” Wilson noted. “We started by using Protolabs’ website to upload potential piece part designs. In a couple of instances, we worked with their engineers to tweak our designs to meet their manufacturing rules. Protolabs has a very efficient process, so it only takes about three weeks to go from a 3D model to a production part.”

The purple touchpoints incorporated throughout the system with buttons and levers, as well as in the touchscreen interface, have received glowing reviews from practitioners, according to Protolabs.

Critical to Pronova’s ease of use are molded touchpoints that a nurse can use to reposition a patient in less than 30 seconds. Protolabs’ quick-turn injection molding allowed these touchpoints to be incorporated throughout the system’s buttons and levers and in the touchscreen interface. Made of purple ABS that is flame retardant, RoHS compliant, and high flow, the touchpoints match Turn Medical’s company color palette.

With as many as 25% of nurses projected to leave the profession, it’s no wonder one hospital demonstration of the Pronova-O2 was met with a standing ovation by nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists.

About the Author(s)

Geoff Giordano

Geoff Giordano is a tech journalist with more than 30 years’ experience in all facets of publishing. He has reported extensively on the gamut of plastics manufacturing technologies and issues, including 3D printing materials and methods; injection, blow, micro and rotomolding; additives, colorants and nanomodifiers; blown and cast films; packaging; thermoforming; tooling; ancillary equipment; and the circular economy. Contact him at [email protected].

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