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Spinner’s First Training Event

Hosted by Aesculap AG, Tuttlingen, DE

Wednesday to Friday, 5th – 7th December 2018

The Spinner delegation surround the keystone, dated 1877, from one of Aesculap’s original buildings in Tuttlingen, in the foyer of their new canteen. Left to right, standing: Marco Sensale (ESR5, Ansys), Norman Powell (Spinner Project Manager, University of Sheffield), Thomas Grupp (Host, Aesculap), Áron Lazáry (NCSD), Peter Ender Eltes (NCSD), José Rodrigues (ESR2, University of Sheffield), Cameron James (ESR6, AGAGOS), Luca Cristofolini (University of Bologna), Lucia Forte (Finceramica), Pavel Barsa (Regional Hospital, Liberec). Left to right, kneeling: Enrico Dall’Ara (University of Sheffield), Gwen Reilly (Spinner Coordinator, University of Sheffield), Denata Syla (ESR1, University of Sheffield), Chloé Thechens (ESR3, University of Bologna), Jennifer Fayad (ESR4, University of Bologna).

In early December, the Spinner Fellows and their supervisors journeyed to town of Tuttlingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the South West of Germany, close to the Swiss border. This is the home for 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, Prof 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.

Spinner Fellows and Supervisors apply spinal fixations to cervical and lumbar spines under the guidance of Aesculap staff and spine surgeons.

In the afternoon the spine surgeons, Pavel Barsa, Regional Hospital, Liberec, Áron Lazáry and Peter Eltes, National Centre for Spinal Disorders, Budapest, 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.

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, where the production, quality measurement and sterilisation of a variety of medical devices, including the spinal wedges and the fixations devices and well as knee and hip prosthesis. 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 their research areas provided by Thomas and his team at Aesculap and case studies provided by the spine surgeons.

Here is what some of the participants had to say:

Denata Syla: “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.”

Marco Sensale: “The TE1 at Aesculap provided an intensive training about spinal surgical procedures. It was a unique opportunity to learn from international experts and to have insights in Aesculap’s specialisation in spinal devices. The hands-on workshops with surgeons to simulate operations were the best part of the training.”