Coined in the 1950s, the word “ergonomics” became widespread at the end of the previous century, when the discipline gathered significant momentum. People increasingly started to realize that the interaction of humans with their environment can be scientifically optimized to both ensure effective usage of working space and minimize negative impacts on our health. A major achievement of ergonomics is the growing awareness that the design of the working environment should be adapted to fit the human factors and not the other way around.

Ergonomics draws upon the practical accomplishments of anthropological lore (including anatomy, physiology, and psychology), as well as engineering and statistics, to be effectively implemented into organizing working and domestic environments. An important trend in modern ergonomics is its drive for automation. Mechanized solutions propelled by actuators are extensively utilized in a wide range of locations, from kitchens and gardens to industries such as military, aerospace, and modern medicine.

Photo of dentist chair in the newest dental clinic.

Hospital Applications of Linear Actuators

Linear actuators are devices that transform various energy types into mechanical motion. Typically, it is hydraulic, pneumatic, or electric energy. The first two types of actuators have issues with positioning and control, and ecological considerations make them inappropriate for usage in medicine. Unlike these two, electric actuators are clean, quiet, and reliable. The linear actuators manufactured by Progressive Actuators can cater to most fastidious users since they provide smooth operation and high precision of motion. Being easily customizable, they can be utilized in numerous healthcare-related applications.

While using automation to lift a TV of a bed cabinet or raise a spice rack up from the kitchen island may seem whimsical, modern medical mechanization is essential. Patients in hospitals are often physically or mentally impaired who cannot walk, sit up, or sit down without the aid of mechanized help. Moreover, doctors and nurses must have an adjustable workstation that will provide comfortable access to their patients to ensure necessary help or conduct medical procedures.

Consequently, linear actuators find a whole range of applications in hospitals and nursing homes. They are utilized in electric windows, doors, and all kinds of automated furniture to let the patients open or close them without physical strength required. Moving around the hospital and undertaking basic sanitary procedures would be impossible for many without electric wheelchairs, bath lifts, patient lifts, and stretchers. Modern surgery requires electric operation tables, hospital beds, tractions, and medical treatment chairs. And the rehabilitation period would be much longer if it were not for automated nursing home beds, home care beds, and massage chairs.

One such medical field where electric medical chairs have become indispensable is dentistry.

Photo of a charming young boy smiling and sitting in a dental chair

Actuators in the Dental Industry

Visiting a dentist can be a stressful experience, and not only for kids. It is, for this reason, dentists must ensure a smooth experience, alleviating any fears, and help the patient relax as much as possible. Dental ergonomics have much to do with this process, making the patient as comfortable as possible to ensure successful treatment.

An ergonomic dental chair is typically one with soft cushioning, a steady footrest, and a thin backrest. The latter is critical in providing the doctor with sufficient leg space, allowing them to access the teeth with ease. Its double-articulating headrest allows convenient placement of the patient’s head, and the movable armrest guarantees easy entry or exit. But what makes these dental medical chairs for patients state-of-the-art is their adjustment capabilities. It is here linear actuators come into play.

Dental chair mobility is provided by several adjustable elements, where linear actuators can be installed. When a patient is in the chair, the dentist first lowers or raises the backrest to attain the most comfortable chair height. By tilting the chair, the practitioner gets easier access to the mouth and the fine-tuning of the headrest puts the final touch on the preparations. Linear actuators see to it that all this happens without jerky movements or annoying noises and ensure the accurate positioning of all adjustable elements.

Photo of a dentist and patient

Taking Care of the Dentist

Speaking on ergonomics in dentistry, the dentist’s comfort also holds high significance. As scientists argue, dentists are subject to numerous job-related musculoskeletal disorders, the most regular of which are back and neck pain, with shoulder, elbow, and hand pain trailing not much behind. The design of the chair is also structured to meet the requirements of the dentist, sparing them as much inconvenience and tension as possible.

To that end, the dental chair is equipped with a footswitch – a touchpad that allows dentists to adjust the chair height while having their hands free to deal with the treatment, which is also important hygiene-wise.

Another scourge that afflicts dentists is eyesight problems. The minute-precision of their occupation requires considerable eye-straining, which results in the gradual deterioration of sight sharpness. Consequently, the practice should have above-standard illumination. Ambient lighting will be of little help here since procedures such as color matching or dental cosmetic work require intense task lighting, which should be as adjustable as the chair. Linear actuators can provide automated lighting facilities which will be eyesight-friendly and allow for high-quality dental procedures at the same time.

Conclusion

Linear actuators find numerous applications in the healthcare industry, and dentistry is no exception. These reliable and quiet devices improve ergonomics of the workplace, benefiting both patients and doctors in their everyday tasks.

Linear actuators by Progressive Actuators are suitable for use in the medical field, including dentistry. Not sure which model fits your purposes? Contact us, and we’ll help you work on automating your workplace.