Surgery Simplified with Ergonomics


To make it easier for surgeons to perform complex back surgeries by reducing hand fatigue and shortening procedure time.


A completely redesigned toolset that focused on improved ergonomics to increase accuracy, while incorporating an updated design aesthetic that made each tool easier to identify and use.

Zimmer has long been known for designing, manufacturing, and distributing the world’s most advanced surgical tools for spinal surgeries. Though many patients suffering from debilitating back issues have received life-changing surgery, standard procedures sometimes take hours to perform and require dozens of complex instruments and processes that spinal surgeons must use to achieve successful results.

Because these spinal surgery procedures and instruments are so complicated, Zimmer approached Worrell to partner with them to develop a new design for one of their most commonly used spinal toolsets; the goal being reduced hand fatigue and shorten procedure time by making the tools more intuitive.

The first objective of the project was to develop in-depth knowledge of when and how the tools were currently being used. By building empathy for the surgeons, and gaining a comprehensive understanding of these complex surgeries, Worrell’s Research team gathered insights surrounding the ergonomic issues of the current toolset. These recommendations were then passed to Worrell’s Industrial Design team, who began work on a new tool design that would resolve these issues.

The Design team reduced the horn size of the angled tools to give them a sleeker appearance. They also modified the handles to create a more substantial grip to improve precision during surgery. The tools were slimmed down and it’s edges smoothed, to create a softer, refined aesthetic, while also reducing the overall weight of each tool. The combination of these new design elements completely overhauled the toolset, increasing accuracy and precision while creating a common design aesthetic that helps surgeons understand how to use each tool.

Worrell’s expertise in research and user-centered design produced a new family of tools that redefined the standards of ergonomic and aesthetic design for spinal surgery. Surgeons quickly discovered the benefits of the new tools, citing a decrease in hand fatigue and a noticeable improvement in ease-of-use. Zimmer is pleased, having re-solidified its leading position in the spinal surgery industry.