When immobile or partially mobile patients have to be placed in a wheelchair, bathed, or have their bedding changed, they must be braced, lifted, repositioned, or transported in various ways. Up to now, various lifter systems have been employed, such as belt, bath, or suspension lifters. However, these devices are all specialized for particular situations. And often they are not readily available, but must be brought from another room. Time constraints frequently lead to patients being moved manually, which in turn increases the physical strain on nursing personnel.
An initial goal of the “Elevon“ project was therefore to develop a concept for a new multifunctional, semiautonomous person lifter. The multifunctional lifter is designed to combine tasks that are otherwise still performed by multiple individual lifter systems. Additional assistive functions allow care personnel to summon the lifter electronically, and the lifter to navigate autonomously to where it is needed. The lifter is also conceived to, for example, raise persons off the bed and transport them, either in a lying or sitting position. The operation of the lifter is greatly facilitated by built-in sensors which enable the automatic detection of the person and positioning of the hoist system.
A second aim of the project was to verify the technical feasibility of the new lifter concept through the prototypical realization of the relevant key components. This was achieved by developing an appropriate kinematic design for the hoist. A functional prototype of the overall system was also constructed in order to validate its underlying concept with respect to specified parameters (e. g., lifting and holding capacity).
On the basis of the project results, the overall system can now be further developed in collaboration with manufacturers and made ready for production.