Seymourpowell and Axis Spine Technologies develop VR solution to provide personalised treatment and surgery guidance to spine surgeons

Seymourpowell and Axis Spine Technologies develop VR solution to provide personalised treatment and surgery guidance to spine surgeons

Seymourpowell, a design and innovation company, together with British medical start-up, Axis Spine Technologies, recently announced a virtual reality (VR) solution which allows surgeons to evaluate and develop spinal implants virtually before making physical prototypes. Medical teams can collaborate more effectively, while also reducing costs and material waste.

Seymourpowell and Axis developed a modular system that surgeons can use to assemble a bespoke implant for each individual patient. The assembled implants consist of three customisable components, meaning a relatively small inventory of each can combine to create the ideal implant for any patient, compared to currently available technologies. Modularity gives surgeons choice to intra-operatively select the best implant for the patient. 

VR was fully embraced during the implant design process. From kick-off, digital twins of the implant and instrumentation concepts were built. These were developed, evaluated and tested within a Seymourpowell-designed and coded VR platform. 

Nick Sandham, Associate Director at Seymourpowell: “We conceived the implant not only from a functional standpoint, but a logistical and emotional perspective too. While modularity is a great enabler for bespoke patient solutions, we had to be mindful not to alienate surgeons with unfamiliarity, or healthcare institutions with complexity. On the contrary, we took great care to develop an elegant solution to make surgery simpler, safer, and more streamlined for everybody involved.” 

This modular implant technology boasts significant benefits. Axis and Seymourpowell conceived a system which is significantly less damaging than traditional implants of this type.  

Craig Bunyan, Associate Director and Lead of the Creative Technology Team at Seymourpowell: “Using VR as the lynchpin for communication and collaboration during the design process expedited early design decision making. It also laid the foundation for an interactive VR customer engagement tool which Axis is using to showcase the key benefits and teach procedural nuances of the implant system.” 

Axis is progressing this platform further with Seymourpowell in an effort to become the first company to use VR pre- and intra-operatively. The tool will form the basis of training for nurses and surgeons ahead of surgeries in the future. 

Jon Arcos, CEO & Founder at Axis Spine Technologies: “This kind of immersive education can also have substantial benefits for patients. Without any form of medical training, complex procedures and narratives can be confusing, as well as extremely daunting. Being able to articulate key messages through a clear, compelling and consistent multimedia experience will help better set patient expectations and play an important part in the future of healthcare.” 

Seymourpowell and Axis are continuing to collaborate on the development of these real-time powered tools. The team are currently creating a new paradigm for pre-operative planning and in-surgery product support using both VR and AR and soon these systems will also be built on to create a new gold standard patient consenting experience.  

The collaboration represents a great step forward in medical technology, with the design industry providing a fresh view on a sector that has typically been defined by traditional medical design firms. The solution is being deployed to better the lives of real patients suffering from severe and degenerative spinal conditions. 

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