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Invention eases exams for patients, doctors

Posted September 22, 2011

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— Most patients take the ability to climb onto an exam table for granted when they visit the doctor.

For patients with disabilities and the nurses who help them, however, there is risk involved during every trip to the doctor.

Most of the risk comes from the potential for falls during transfers from wheelchairs to exam tables. According to OSHA statistics, 12 to 18 percent of nurses leave the field every year from back injuries suffered when handling patients. Dr. Willis Martin has come up with a solution he hopes changes those numbers. 

The Chair-A-Table, as Martin calls it, is made for patients with mobility issues. Doctors can unsnap the back and slide the wheels off, allowing the patient to be placed in a reclined position for an exam. Martin said his goal in designing the Chair-A-Table was to help eliminate the need for nurses to lift patients out of wheelchairs or use slings to complete exams. 

"If we eliminate lifting of the patient, then you eliminate any possibility of a fall," he said. "You eliminate any possibility of a skin tear. You eliminate any possibility of a nurse hurting her back."

chair-a-table Invention eases exams for those with limited mobility

Martin left his Nash County practice after 30 years to come up with a solution to a problem he had to face every day. He and a small staff assemble the Chair-A-Tables at a plant in Wendell. 

Dr. Tom Hooper, a physician in Wilson, spent $18,000 dollars on a unit. He said he's certain the Chair-A-Table will save him money long-term. 

"The savings comes in protection of your staff and patients," he said. "We have one table in the office, and we'd like to have several more."

For patients like Sally Yelverton, who uses a walker, the Chair-A-Table makes coming to the doctor much easier. 

"It's much easier to get in this chair then it is to climb up on the examination table," she said. 

Because of his work, Martin is one of three finalists for the da Vinci Award in Dearborn, Michigan. The award recognizes innovation that helps people with mobility disabilities. Martin said he hopes the expected demand for the product will allow him to expand his business and hire more employees in the eastern part of the state.

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  • pittsnc Sep 23, 2011

    This may be appropriate for a small clinic. It is not the most effective solution for safe patient transfer. What if a patient comes in his own wheelchair? The patient's own chair does not fit onto this "invention". In fact, someone will have to lift him onto this special wheelchair in order to be treated. This is doing double work. Instead, use a patient lift with a sling can be more effective and better for a larger setting like a hospital or a large clinic. A patient lift can also help get a patient off the floor if he has fallen or transfer onto a toilet, if needed.

  • ftpc99 Sep 23, 2011

    Excellent idea Dr. Martin! That's one of those inventions that make you do the "V-8 forehead smack" and say why didn't I think of that. I wish you lots of success.

  • Reader X Sep 23, 2011

    Great invention. I'm sure both the patients and nurses appreciate it.