Innovative Gravity-Longitudinal Individualized Force Transfer System Available to Combat Musculoskeletal Issues Associated with Working in Lead Aprons

The G-LIFT was designed and developed based on the well-established orthopedic principle of force transfer and is currently in used in cardiac catheterization labs in the United States. The G-LIFT system offers a light weight, effective, durable and convenient solution for the increasing epidemic of musculoskeletal issues among healthcare workers working in heavy lead aprons.

Radiation protective garments or lead aprons are considered essential for protecting healthcare workers from exposure to radiation during procedures which require fluoroscopic equipment. However, it has become increasingly apparent that prolonged use of lead aprons may bear consequences of chronic musculoskeletal pain and discomfort, which could become disabling.  

Within the operating room and fluoroscopy suites, procedures can be lengthy requiring prolonged use of lead aprons placing stress on the body and often results in musculoskeletal injury over time. 

In a case-controlled multisite study by the Mayo Clinic published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

  • 55% of the respondents reported musculoskeletal pain. There have been successfully designed and expensive systems which relieve the weight problem for the physician doing the procedures. However, there are other healthcare workers involved in these procedures who seem to suffer more musculoskeletal pain than the physician.  
  • 62% of technicians and 60% of the nurses versus 44% of the attending physicians in the Mayo Clinic study, reported musculoskeletal pain, despite the technicians and nurses being younger and having worked for fewer years. 
  • Since the technicians and nursing staff do not typically rotate out of the interventional laboratory, they are exposed to more constant physical stress from lead apron usage. 
  • Studies have shown that chronic musculoskeletal pain increases with higher case volumes and more years in practice for physicians. 

The Mayo Clinic study concluded the following: 

“musculoskeletal pain is more common in healthcare workers who participate in fluoroscopically guided interventional procedures and is the highest in non-physician allied staff. Female sex, increasing time per week participating in procedures requiring radiation, and increasing use of the lead apron are associated with a higher prevalence of musculoskeletal pain.”

The Gravity-Longitudinal Individualized Force Transfer system, G-LIFT, transfers the weight of a lead apron from the back and shoulders to the iliac crest. This weight transfer improves arm and neck mobility. More importantly, the neck is protected by the G-LIFT from potentially dangerous posterior pressure from the weight of lead during movement. 

Lance Lewis, MD, is an Interventional Cardiologist in Wilmington, North Carolina. He says “At the end of the day, I didn’t find myself fatigued or tired. Before, I wouldn’t have said I needed it. But, once you wear the G-LIFT, you realize how much better you feel. Now, I don’t like doing cases without it.”

Each G-LIFT is built to last for years of daily use.  The design team included an Interventional Cardiologist and an Orthopedic Surgeon.  After using the G-LIFT system for several weeks, users have noticed relief for chronic neck and back discomfort, less fatigue at the end of the day and more comfort while working in heavy lead aprons.

Through a collaboration with The School of Health and Applied Human Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, initial research supports our claims of reduction in musculoskeletal stress when wearing the G-LIFT system under lead aprons. G-TECH, LLC plans to publish this data once the study is completed. 

The G-LIFT system was awarded a utility patent in August of 2020 and the system is launching commercially in February of 2021.  G-Tech is in the process of developing and patenting extensions to this system that will continue to improve safety for those working in the Cath Lab, Radiology, and OR environments.

For Additional Information About the G-LIFT, follow us on Twitter at @theglift


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JACC, Vol 65, Issue 8,3 March 2015, pp 820-826

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