Operating room surgeons, doctors, nurses, and technicians work long hours and conduct intensive surgeries that require them to be on their feet on hard floors for hours at a time. This can be physically draining, tiring, and painful—taking a serious toll on their bodies and well-being. A surgical team is one of a hospital’s most valuable assets. Keeping medical professionals healthy and productive not only benefits that individual, but also their fellow staff, patients, and the entire facility. Anti-fatigue floor mats support staff during longer O.R. procedures by helping to reduce discomfort and fatigue caused by standing in one place.
Standing for Hours Can Have Serious Consequences
Standing on hard floor surfaces for extended periods is not just tiring, it can impair blood circulation. This leads to lower extremity fatigue swelling in the veins, chronic muscle and nerve pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, and reduced concentration. Long-term negative consequences often follow, including chronic loss of blood circulation, rapid onset of arthritis, and varicose veins, along with musculoskeletal injuries including impaired muscle functions of feet to lower back and reduced spinal elasticity. That’s why the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) suggests the use of anti-fatigue matting in the workplace.1
Studies Have Shown Anti-Fatigue Mats Can Help
A number of medical studies have shown that using ergonomic, anti-fatigue medical mats can help reduce discomfort and fatigue during long procedures. A study at Texas A&M measured surgeons’ stature and sit-reach flexibility when using different floor mats. The results were impressive. The use of gel mats resulted in almost 40% less height loss due to spinal compression than the “no mat” situation used as a control. Surgeons also remained more flexible because of the mats, with flexibility results coming in 300% higher for the gel mats compared to the no-mat control.2
An interventional study in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health found that anti-fatigue floor mats were effective in the reduction of low back pain.3 The conclusion is based off a visual analogue scale, meaning the results were subjective. Still, it suggests that surgeons prefer the presence of the mats to having a bare floor in the O.R.
Finally, the Journal of Urology published a clinical study evaluating the comfort level of surgical laparoscopy teams during and after surgery, with and without the use of gel footpads.4 In 100 procedures, the researchers found that participants without the gel pads took significantly more breaks, experienced foot pain, knee pain, back discomfort, and had a diminished energy level. The study concluded that the use of foot gel pads improved surgeons’ ergonomics during minimally invasive procedures and may also improve surgical performance by diminishing fatigue and discomfort.
A Variety of Anti-Fatigue Mats are Available to Serve Specific Needs
Matting encourages small muscle movements that help increase circulation, reducing pain and fatigue. Over time, the use of matting leads to improved productivity, restored energy, reduced errors, and improved posture. There are a variety of mats available for different applications.
- Anti-Fatigue Mats—Anti-fatigue mats are available in a variety of materials and styles. Autoclavable Mats are designed to fit into standard autoclaves and tested to withstand extensive sterilization. Bubble Sof-Tred™ Anti-Fatigue Mats are made from closed-cell PVC foam with a bubble patterned top for increased comfort, good traction, and insulation from cold floors and vibration. ESD Anti-Fatigue Matting assures the dissipation of static to protect potentially volatile areas from dangerous sparks.
- Disposable Mats—Disposal mats, such as the Airug Disposable Surgical Mat, are made with closed-cell PVC foam that relieves back and leg discomfort while offering enhanced infection control. The small square size also allows users to set up multiple mats for custom configuration.
- Disposable Gel Mats—Products such as the GelPro® Disposable Surgical Comfort Floor Mat and Stool Mats are disposable, single-use mats. The gel absorbs the impact and stress of standing, providing proper ergonomic support to feet, legs, and back for restored energy and increased focus and productivity. In addition, the durable polyurethane surface is fluid-, dirt-, and stain-resistant, offering enhanced infection control while saving on cleanup.