NECO - the reliable protection of the cervical spine
NECO - Product Video
NECO - Product Video
The ergonomic collar adapts to the individual shape of the patient’s head.
NECO is made of injection-molded parts and die-cutted, skin-compatible foam.
Countless prototypes evolved from an iterative design process.
It’s applied on the place of the accident and protects the neck until the arrival at the hospital.
NECO is used after accidents when there is a risk of cervical spine injuries. All adjustments in size can be easily performed by a push and pull movement. This protects the patient from any additional movement and ensures a safe transport to the hospital.
Our team member Astrid is part of a local firefighter's medical service and is familiar with the product and its importance. Since any problem during the application can have a big impact on the patient’s life, we set us the goal to make a product which avoids any of the known issues and provides a quick, safe and easy application. The ideas for the final prototype originated in group meetings where we discussed, sketched and analyzed various possible solutions. Together we decided on which ideas to pursue and elaborate more in depth.
The NECO collar is closed behind the neck by a hook. The embedded finger guides help to navigate and ensure an easy interaction. The integrated mechanisms allow for easy adjustment of height and diameter while the patient wears the collar. The way the notches are oriented enables for a very compact way of integrating the mechanism. The undercut shape of the tooth flanks ensures a secure hold of height and diameter. When the readjustment button is pushed, the mechanism gets disengaged and you are able to change the dimensions or remove the collar from the patient. As soon as the button is released, the collar will automatically be locked in the given position.
After an in-depth market analysis, we conducted an interview with paramedics at the hospital of Uster, Switzerland. This confirmed our assumptions of points to improve. We set requirements such as medical functionality, reliable mechanics, ergonomics and ease of use. In order to develop the new product, we created a lot of prototypes, ranging from easy cardboard mockups to functional laser-cut models. We iteratively tested our designs, improved them with each step and compared them regularly to our target specifications. Our first decision was for a global symmetric design, being connected at the backside of the neck by a simple hook. The main criterion therefore was to build a connection easy enough to be linked with only haptic feedback guiding the user. We then developed the shape of the product side by side with its mechanics. We designed the shape to fit most patients (5th to 95th percentile) and to fulfill all ergonomic requirements. The mechanical parts had to be developed simultaneously to fit together and achieve the desired functionalities. At the same time, the interaction for the paramedic had to be easy and intuitive. Good communication was key during this process to ensure that eventually all parts of the product would fit together precisely.
NECO features a novel way of applying a safe and reliable neck immobilization. Unlike conventional products, the NECO collar can be completely mounted from the front and provides a symmetric fit on the patient. Due to the easy closing through a hook behind the neck, no part needs to be pulled under the patient’s neck anymore. As a result, the patient’s head doesn’t need to be lifted. The application becomes therefore easier for the paramedic and safer for the patient, since any movement of an already injured spine may lead to further damage and even tetraplegia. NECO provides an easy and intuitive way of adjusting height and diameter directly on the patient. Conventional neck collars require estimation and positioning of their height before being mounted to the patient. For any readjustment, they need to be completely removed. NECO allows for an ideal adjustment directly on the patient, and readjustment is possible at any moment.
The future steps in the development are to set up a design and material choice allowing for batch production, in particular by using injection molding for plastic parts. The market-ready design will undergo extensive testing with probands in various circumstances. These studies will be monitored and evaluated by medical experts to provide evidence of absolute reliability. Investors have to be convinced of NECO’s high potential. A realistic market volume of NECO and a feasible prize will be estimated. Once NECO is launched successfully, more medical quality products will be developed in order to successively enlarge the product family.