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The Back Up System
Winner - Bronze
Designer: Mr. Nikko Van Stolk
Design Type: Medical
Company / Organization / School: Academy of Art University
The Back Up System is a harness that EMS workers connect to any patient lifting and transport device that transfers the load to their hips, bypassing and minimizing strain on their lower back. According to data collected by NIOSH, emergency medical service workers suffer the highest rate of injury than most other occupations in American industry. The majority of these injuries are back related from improper lifting techniques and/or simple over exertion of musculoskeletal systems while lifting and moving patients. Currently, the majority of designs on the market seeking to reduce back strain focus on the ergonomics of lift handles or mechanical assistance built into a patient transport devices. Paramedics interviewed during research were interested in shoulder straps used by moving companies as a potential solution, however, all of these products only serve to improve proper lifting technique and do not directly address the frequent compressional loads placed on the spine which lead to debilitating long term injury. The Back Up System provides rigid support of the lower back while electro active polymers contract during lifting, providing proper spinal alignment and support. A spreader bar transfers the load to the pelvis while a ratcheting system provides a mechanical lifting advantage and compensates for height differences between EMS workers while lifting and transporting patients. This design promotes the health and longevity of EMS workers as well as saving millions of dollars paid out in workers compensation and missed work days.