July 1, 2014

Many arthritis patients do not want to use the current splints as they are 'ugly, bulky, and can make a patients arm sweat'. But this may change very soon as Dr Abby Paterson, a Loughborough University lecturer, has developed a computer software concept that will enable clinicians to design and make custom-made 3D printed wrist splints that are not only more comfortable and attractive but potentially cheaper than the current ones.

The splints, which provide joint protection, rest, and promote pain relief, could be a major boost for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, the second most common type of arthritis in the UK which affects more than 400,000 people, said Abby Paterson, from design school.

The splints are made by scanning a patient's arm in the 'appropriate position'. A 3D model splint is then designed based on the scan to generate a computer model.

The 3D printer, an Objet Connex 3D printer, can then produce as many splints as are needed, and clinicians can integrate multiple materials in a single splint such as rubber-like integral hinges or cushioning features. They can be any colour, have a lattice design to aid ventilation and any type of fastening the patient requires.

The software is designed to enable clinicians with no experience in 3D modelling to design and make custom-made 3D printed wrist splints for patients.

"I wanted to give clinicians the ability to make splints that they have not been able to make before," Paterson said, "They can improve the aesthetics, the fit, and integrate extra bits of functionality they couldn't do before."

Dr Paterson was supervised during her PhD by Dr Richard Bibb and Dr Ian Campbell. Dr Bibb came up with the idea for bespoke wrist splints in the late 1990's. Dr Bibb and Dr Paterson are currently pursuing opportunities to perform a 'thorough cost analysis' of providing the service. They believe that with some financial backing they could perfect the CAD software within 18 months.

Dr Bibb believes they will be cost-effective, he said: "We are in the development phase. The research has proved that this is desirable and the clinicians want it. We know there's lots of potential."

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Ilja wrote at 9/21/2016 11:51:07 AM:

What is the brand of that software? When it will be commercially available?

asdkjas;dlkgas;'';pa wrote at 7/3/2014 12:50:51 AM:

+1 on posting the file

Leslie Karpas wrote at 7/2/2014 12:53:03 AM:

I wonder if he knows that Objet Tango is toxic for long term skin contact, and rapidly becomes brittle loosing its elasticity after just a couple weeks of exposure to air and natural light... Connex's are great for stuff that looks cool, they're worthless for anything that has a job to do.

jesse wrote at 7/2/2014 12:41:40 AM:

How about posting the source 3d model so I can print my own brace?

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