Mar 22, 2017 | By David

The lives of families affected by cerebral palsy could soon be made a little easier with the help of 3D printing technology. After the condition caused the tragic death of their son, a couple have set out to improve the medical care of other young sufferers. They have developed a new way to produce body braces using 3D printing and 3D scanning techniques which they now hope to make available globally following a successful crowdfunding campaign to launch their project in the UK.

Cerebral palsy is a genetic disorder that causes tightening of the muscles that can be painful and debilitating. Splints and braces can be fitted to support the patient’s body to relieve some of these symptoms. The method used to produce the orthotic devices is to make a body cast from plaster, which can be fraught with difficulties, particularly for younger patients. The cast takes around an hour to fully set, during which time the child has to lie completely still. Their continual growth necessitates frequent trips to the hospital to get new casts made, causing a lot of inconvenience and discomfor for parent and child alike.

After their son passed away, Samiya and Naveed Parvez set out to find a better method to help other parents in the same situation they had been in, eventually turning to 3D technology to solve the problem of finding effective orthoses. Naveed attended a technology conference where he saw 3D printing used to replicate steam engine parts. "The new parts were so accurate that the scratches in the paintwork of the original were perfectly reflected in the print," he says. "I had a lightbulb moment—not just because of the technology but because of the realization that all that pain could be turned to good." 

He realized that this same 3D technology could be used to model a patient’s body and print a brace or a splint, completely eliminating the need for a plaster cast. With the help of the charity The Nominet Trust, the couple set up a medical technology company, Andiamo, named after their son Diamo and the Italian phrase meaning "Let’s Go."  They successfully crowdfunded their project on Indiegogo, and started treating patients in the UK back in December 2014.

Andiamo is able to send people out to the home of a patient and do a full 3D scan of the body, ready to be sent off for printing. This means a lot fewer hospital visits, and the orthosis produced is usually more lightweight and a much better fit than one made from a plaster cast. Moreover, the turnaround from scanning to printing is a mere two weeks, a huge improvement on the six months it would previously take, during which time the child would be housebound or confined to a wheelchair. The company is intending to eventually cut the production time down to 48 hours.

Work is also underway on establishing a cloud-based clinician network, giving specialists access to patient measurements and data sets for rapid iteration. This is a huge benefit of the 3D printing workflow, and will streamline the production process even further.

Andiamo plans to make at least 40,000 orthoses over the next five years, and to open up a permanent clinic in London sometime in the future. This is poised to be a huge success, as demand for orthotics is increasing by six percent each year, and there are only 450 qualified orthoticians in the UK. Thanks to 3D technology, Andiamo’s founders have managed to turn their own personal tragedy into something that will contribute so much to the lives of other people. "Although I don't have the same pain any more," says Naveed, "if we can reduce another family's and make life a bit better for someone else, it's worth it."



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Clare wrote at 9/2/2018 9:41:49 AM:

This is awesome, just wondering if this would work for polio

A cat wrote at 4/4/2017 8:37:15 PM:


Jeff Schiller wrote at 3/26/2017 5:44:45 PM:

As an ABC certified orthotist in the US I LOVE that 3D scanning/modeling and printing orthotics is coming more to light, and being used more widely. There are a number of inconsistencies in this article the detract from the general goal of using 3D scanning/printing for more patients and improving outcomes. 1) Per Wikipedia only about 2% of Cerebral Palsy (CP) cases have genetic causes, the majority involve injury to the brain and central nervous system before birth or within the first years of life. This damage results in poor motor control and function. 2) Plaster casts are often used for children for a variety of reasons but the amount of time that a plaster cast needs to be on a patient can be measured in verses of the song Wheels on the the Bus. Curing time for a cast of the patient may be 60 minutes but time on the patient could be on the order of 3-20 minutes depending on the level of the device. As long as care was taken in the evaluation and environment for the casting I've seen maybe 1% of CP patients that I simply could not cast effectively. 3) Growth of the child usually meant replacing the lower limb orthoses every 6-12 months, not exactly frequent trips to the hospital. That doesn't take into account growth spurts or if remolds were required for other reasons, potentially increasing the number of visits per year from two to four. 4) Wait time for a custom AFO/KAFO in the US is 2 weeks as a standard, 6 month wait times are INSANE! If you waited half a year to fit a child with an orthotic device they would never have a chance to use the device before it was outgrown. I agree with the overall mission of Andiamo, improving the lives of their patients through better technology. It seems that blending their design and manufacturing with traditional casting could be a match made in heaven. I do hope that their company explores options of licensing the evaluation and scanning process to a wider group of orthotists.

Drew wrote at 3/25/2017 5:17:45 PM:

Only 1.6% of CP cases are considered "familial recurrence". That hardly makes it a genetic condition. Also, casts harden in 15 minutes or less. The entire casting process may take 30 min with a skilled orthotist. The idea of scanning the entire body is pretty brilliant incase multiple devices are needed for the child. Direct 3D printing of medical or orthopedic devices is fantastic, but the medical system should not be circumvented just to receive care more quickly if the care isn't up to professional standards. I think this tech can be used to disrupt to current workflow, but the kiddos with CP still benefit from being followed in the multidisciplinary team system.

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