From heavy to light weight: new ways to transfer patients

01 October 2018

Prof Keith Alexander and his team have been working on a simple and cost effective design to help carers transfer patients.

Keith Alexander_transferring patients machine

While there are many transfer devices most are complicated, expensive and large. Prof Keith Alexander built prototypes to lift and transfer patients with minimal force from the carer.

UC and Victoria University of Wellington alumnus Prof Keith Alexander has been working on a simple problem most of us would never think of. He started a project a number of years ago to address carers injuring themselves while lifting and transferring patients. He noticed that despite the transfers being electrical, hydraulic and mechanised, they were still expensive and large.

 “There is an opening for a simple, compact, light, low cost, purely mechanical lifter that is suitable for the domestic environment. The concept is to use smart design to make a simple machine,” Keith says.

Prof Keith Alexander built a number of prototypes to lift and transfer patients with minimal force from the carer. In the works are 4 competing concepts working towards the safe transfer of the more frail patients. Prof Keith Alexander says that there is a need for a more refined patient-interface design with regards to these transfers. His team is currently focused on gathering market feedback which leads to “incremental modification of the machines to meet customer requirements.”

All of this has not been standalone, for their efforts have been noticed by Powerhouse which invested nto the concept in late 2017. The project aims to have a first marketable version by November this year, and manufacturing in progress by June 2019. Prof Keith Alexander’s team consists of a CEO, two part time design engineers, a customer experience engineer (all Canterbury postdocs), a Master’s research student and four final year project students. Currently housed at the flexible space lab at ME, it also has an office in the Entrepreneurial hub in the Forestry department.

Prof Keith Alexander who studied for his Bachelor’s in Engineering and a PhD at the University of Canterbury after a science degree at the Victoria University of Wellington, is a member of multiple engineering organisations, and his research interests are spread across mechanical engineering design, fluids, wave power, kite aerodynamics, biomechanical (patient handling) and unconventional craft.

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