Parthemore Pulley

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A heavy duty stainless steel pulley system, used in operating theatres during anterior cervical disectomy and fusion surgery. The system involves a square cornered steel frame, with a screwed in bar on the top of the frame. From this central bar is wheel, which rope is fed through to support three iron weights, each 1 kilogram in weight. The weights are designed to be threaded on to the metal hook.
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Taranaki has all sorts of interesting people doing amazing things for their communities, and Lorraine Parthemore is one of these people. Born and raised on a farm outside of Hawera, Lorraine watched her father think outside the square and solve problems using what he had available, rather than going out and buying something new. This ability to think laterally and make do with resources available stood Lorraine in good stead after her training as a nurse at the Barrett Street Hospital. After deciding to specialise in orthopaedics, she spent many years as an orthopaedic nurse in the USA, where New Zealand nurses were in hot demand for their initiative and can do attitude. She returned to New Zealand in 1989 and in 2006 became the clinical leader of orthopaedics at Southern Cross Hospital in New Plymouth.

It was during her time at Southern Cross that the journey of the Parthemore Pulley began. Lorraine felt that the traction system being used for anterior cervical disectomy and fusion surgery was not as good as it could be, and set out to change it. This particular surgery allows the removal of a herniated cervical disc in the neck. The approach requires the patient's head to be tilted backwards exposing the front of the neck, and the head needs to stay stabilised and under traction throughout the procedure. The head is held in place using skull tongs. The traction system in use in 2006 was bulky, hard to work around and involved many parts to wrangle while trying to use other equipment in the operating theatre. The ballast used to keep the head still was also problematic, as a large gas tank was used which was hard to move or manoeuvre around if needed. After some research Lorraine realised there were no better options available, either in New Zealand or internationally. So Lorraine, using the innovative skills she learnt growing up on her family's farm, set to work making this better. On a piece of paper she sketched out a design for a traction system which fully connected to the operating table, without freestanding ballast like an oxygen tank to keep the head still. Its unobtrusive design was developed to make sure surgical staff and equipment were able to move around the patient easily.

Lorraine then discussed her design with Alpine Technology, a medical hardware firm in Auckland. After some tweaks, Alpine Technology produced a prototype which Lorraine was able to use at Southern Cross Hospital, with great success! The system reduced the length of the surgery by up to an hour, and really freed up space around the operating table to streamline the surgery process. This prototype was used at Southern Cross for 8 years.

From here Lorraine saw the pulley as changing this procedure more widely, but the costs and time associated with getting the device MedSafe approved were too prohibitive at this stage. However once Lorraine moved to be clinic manager at Coastal Orthopaedics, she was able to pass on this process to Opritech, a medical supplies firm. Opritech was able to get the Parthemore Pulley MedSafe registered and develop it commercially. The pulley is now being used at Taranaki Base Hospital as well as at Southern Cross, with plans to market the invention more widely. Lorraine's design has also been submitted as a contender for the 2014 Innovation Awards. This prototype, now in the Puke Ariki collection, was donated by Southern Cross, who are now using a brand new model supplied by Opritech.
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