Device helps prevent injury during joint-surgery rehab.
Patients recovering from hip or knee surgery can get up and around safely without fear of falling by using a new device that is assembled and welded in Chandler.
The equipment, Secure Tracks, was installed at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital in Phoenix and Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center in Sun City West.
A study found the patients also heal more quickly and with less pain.
Walking is healthful, medical professionals say, but the threat of falling is a hazard to patients and to medical staff helping them.
Secure Tracks, welded by Astra Fab, consists of a ceiling-mounted monorail track, a trolley and a U-shaped support device that allows patients to stand upright and walk with a natural gait without a harness.
It was patented by Les and Pamela Dace of Surprise, a couple who had relatives who suffered injuries in falls during rehabilitation.
"We decided there had to be a better way," said Les, who credits his wife with the "aha moment" that led to the invention.
The couple designed Secure Tracks by working with biomechanical engineers, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons.
A six-month clinical study was conducted with Banner Del E. Webb and Banner Sun Health Research Institute in collaboration with The CORE Institute, a north-Phoenix-based orthopedic practice with six clinics, four physical-therapy sites and three research-and-development labs in Arizona.
Researchers looked into the differences between Secure Tracks and a traditional walker in terms of patient rehabilitation and recovery. The research found that patients walked up to 152 percent farther and 45 percent faster with Secure Tracks and with a more-normal gait and less pain.
"The time to up and go is usually two weeks for hip patients, and that time was significantly reduced, and the pain was reduced because they got active sooner," said Erica Brinker, Vice President of Strategy and Marketing at The CORE Institute. "Our physicians are extremely happy with the outcomes."
Staff members at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley tested Secure Tracks by purposely trying to fall while using the device, but it held up well, said Susan Hoffmeister, the hospital's clinical director of orthopedics.
"It's really innovative, and I think going to be great for the patient population and for the staff," she said.
The Daces have a lease-to-own program in which Secure Tracks can be installed on a three-, four- or five-year lease for less than what a physical therapist would cost over the same time.
Many hospitals will use two physical therapists to walk with one patient. Secure Tracks takes the place of the second therapist, and the remaining therapist is free to monitor the patient's gait.
Some hospitals and rehab centers have lifts that roll down the corridor and lift the patient out of a wheelchair, but those devices are used for lifting, not therapy.
"Ours is the only truly rehabilitative device of its kind," Les Dace said.
The inventors, who are fielding interest from around the country, just installed two Secure Tracks at Coronado Surgical Recovery Suites in Henderson, Nev.
Hoffmeister sees wider potential, such as for use with patients recovering from mild strokes or other problems.
"Getting them up and going is very good for recovery from any kind of disease," she said.
A video of Secure Tracks in use can be seen at securetracks.com.