You could try using list view instead of table view. You can design a layout for list view that looks just like table view, but you loose the ability to re-order and resize columns. I don't think you'll hit this limitation as quickly when in list view.
You can also create several layouts all based on the same table but with different subsets of the fields from this table displayed on each. You can then use Layout Setup.... to make the header visible on these layouts when in table view and add buttons in this header that change from layout to layout so that you can quickly change to a different sub set of your fields with a single mouse click.
It's also possible that by using a related table of records or two and some portals, you might not need 54 columns of data for recording the data.