Ergonomic assessment of a new hand tool design for laparoscopic surgery based on surgeons' muscular activity.Appl Ergon. 2020 Oct; 88:103161.AE
Laparoscopic surgery techniques are customarily used in non-invasive procedures. That said traditional surgical instruments and devices used by surgeons suffer from certain ergonomic deficiencies that may lead to physical complaints in upper limbs and back and general discomfort that may, in turn, affect the surgeon's skills during surgery. A novel design of the laparoscopic gripper handle is presented and compared with one of the most used instruments in this field in an attempt to overcome this problem. The assessment of the ergonomic feature of the novel design was performed by using time-frequency analysis of the surface electromyography (sEMG) signal during dynamic activities. Singular Spectrum Analysis (SSA) was used to decompose the sEMG signal and extract the median frequency of each muscle to assess muscle fatigue. The results reveal that using the proposed ergonomic grip reduces the mean values of the muscle activity during each of the proposed tasks. The novel design also improves the ease of use in laparoscopic surgery as it minimises high-pressure contact areas, reduces large amplitude movements and promotes a neutral position of the hand, wrist and forearm. Furthermore, the SSA method for time-frequency analysis provides a powerful tool to analyse a prescribed activity in ergonomic terms. The proposed methodology to assess muscle activity during surgery activities may be useful in the selection of surgical instruments when programming extended procedures, as it provides an additional selection criterion based on the surgeon's biomechanics and the proposed activity.