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Positioning and immobilization

The patient always in the right position

This project focuses on developing new methods for evaluating the positioning and immobilisation of patients in radiotherapy; i.e., the position of the patient during the procedure. The goal is to find common national evaluation methods so that innovations can be compared in a standardised manner.

Today, different systems are used to help the patient lie still during radiotherapy – and to lie in the same position for each therapy session. One of the most common systems is the use of a plastic mask which is fastened to the patient’s face. This has been evaluated and a number of problems have been noted, including instability and poor reproducibility.

More active participation reduces anxiety

One of the problems is negative patient experiences. More than half of the patients state that the process is very claustrophobic with the mask on. Research has also shown that cancer patients wish to participate more actively in their care – and that the participation itself has great advantages. The patient can be more comfortable during radiotherapy, which promotes rehabilitation. Despite this, few new technologies have been implemented in the healthcare services over the past year.

Do calmer patients lie more still?

New methods and techniques will not only be evaluated against objective measures, such as how easy it is to recreate the patient’s exact position and how much the patient moves during the radiotherapy; the innovations are also to be evaluated by the patients, in terms of their experience of the therapy. It is not currently known how patients’ experiences affect their degree of anxiety and capacity to lie still during the treatment.

Are patients able to position themselves?

One idea that is being tested is that the patients themselves can be involved in the positioning. The project is therefore focusing on the development of an interface for the patient, instead of the personnel. The patient will receive clear feedback on their movements and be able to correct their position. The Umeå Institute of Design is also participating in the work.

Faster implementation

A uniform and verifiable method for evaluating fixation, new equipment and new working methods would produce major added value – safer radiotherapy, greater patient participation, quicker implementation of innovations in healthcare, quicker development of care processes, more effective cooperation between Sweden’s university hospitals and more effective cooperation between the healthcare sector and companies.

Participants in the project include representatives for Sweden’s university hospitals, Umeå Institute of Design, Elekta, Micropos Medical, Naslund Medical and the Skandion Clinic.