In March 1970, Dr. John F. Alksne of the Medical College of Virginia demonstrated a bed new to the hospital that would be used for neurosurgical and neurological patients.
The “circolectric bed” was developed for patients with spinal cord injuries – it kept them immobilized after procedures and allowed gradual position changes to help acclimate the body with less stress on the nervous system. It also made it easier on doctors and nurses to move patients during this sort of recovery.
The circolectric bed was operated by electric power and allowed medical professionals to turn the entire frame of the bed. The patient could also move the bed themselves using levers. The bed also had a few accessories which included: traction bars, suspension and exercise device that attached to the bed’s frame, restraining straps and holders for intravenous bottles. The mattress was normally about 2-inches thick and made of foam.
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The bed was invented in the 1950s by Dr. Stryker, an orthopedic surgeon from Kalamazoo, Michigan. In addition to the bed, Stryker had other inventions that revolutionized orthopedic care. They included: the rubber heel for walking casts and the oscillating bone saw. Stryker manufactured his inventions through his own production company which he formed in the 1940s; Orthopedic Frame Company Inc., which later became Stryker Corporation, and is still in operation today. Stryker passed away in 1980, but versions of his designs, including the circolectric bed, continue to be updated and utilized by hospitals.