Spinner's first training event
In early December, the Spinner fellows and their supervisors journeyed to the town of Tuttlingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg, in the south west of Germany, close to the Swiss border. This is the home of the headquarters of Aesculap AG, a medical device company with a broad range of devices, including implants and surgical equipment for spinal implants and related interventions. Tuttlingen also houses Aesculap’s purpose built Aesculap Academy, the venue for Spinner’s first training event.
On the first afternoon, Professor Dr Thomas Grupp, the Principal Expert Engineer, Research and Development for Biomechanics, Orthopaedics and Spine, hosted the event and welcomed the Spinner delegation by providing an introduction to Aesculap AG, which had just celebrated its 150 year anniversary in 2017, and B. Braun, its parent company.
The Spinner research fellows then introduced themselves and their research projects to each other. Christoph Schilling, Aesculap AG, then introduced the range of spinal implants and surgical tools that had been developed and manufactured by Aesculap.
Dinner was at a Hirsch micro-brewery in the neighbouring town of Wurmlingen, where a sample of range of the local beers from a light white beer to a darker Christmas beer was a popular choice to accompany the solid meals of steak or stew.
The second day began with a hands-on workshop demonstrating the spinal plates and fixtures on plastic models of the cervical and lumbar spines. This provided an invaluable grounding of the practical application of the Spinner fellows' research projects.
In the afternoon, the Spinner fellow spent time with spine surgeons Pavel Barsa from Regional Hospital, Liberec, and Áron Lazáry and Peter Eltes from the National Centre for Spinal Disorders, Budapest. The spine surgeons provided detailed case studies, with photographs and medical images of surgical interventions, which drew out issues of corrective surgery, the importance of balance in the spine and preservation of spine curvature, and the use of cement reinforcement and spine fixation.
The event at Aesculap provided intensive training about spinal surgical procedures. It was a unique opportunity to learn from international experts and to have insights into Aesculap’s specialisation in spinal devices. The hands-on workshops with surgeons to simulate operations were the best part of the training.
Dinner was at a restaurant local to Tuttlingen, where Christmas beer was a popular accompaniment to the rumpsteaks and fried onions.
The third day began with a tour Aesculap’s Benchmark manufacturing plant. This is where the production, quality measurement and sterilisation of a variety of medical devices, including the spinal wedges, fixation devices and knee and hip prosthesis, takes place. After more cases studies on advanced spine surgery, the Spinner fellows had an opportunity to meet with their supervisory teams.
The visit finished with a tour of the Biomechanical Research Laboratory, which demonstrated the involved testing regimes developed to recreate authentic usage and wear conditions for medical devices.
The Spinner fellows appreciated the warm welcome and practical introduction into the application of their research areas, provided by Thomas and his team at Aesculap, and case studies provided by the spine surgeons.
The training event changed my point of view to the project completely. Before I went to the event I thought I had an idea, but now I know that I do not really have an idea about how to apply my project. This makes me think it over and make significant changes, so it was very helpful for me.
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