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James’ molds were hot, uncomfortable, and expensive, and so his father, who is a senior lecturer and the head of Auckland University’s transportation engineering group decided to create new splints.
By collaborating with a pediatric neurologist Dr. Rakesh Patel, and Professor Xun Xu, a professor and lecturer on 3D printing, Douglas was able to develop smart splints that are cheaper and more confortable. The splints help realign a child’s feet and promote easier movement. Its production costs $50.
The Smart Splints are made by creating electronic scans or using photographs of the affected limb, a mold is printed which represents an exact fit from the digital splint, and the splints are then 3D printed.
Wilson and Dr. Patel came up with the idea in 2013, and they created four prototypes as proofs of concept for children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and other disabilities.
“With cerebral palsy, because of their neurological problem their feet go in odd shapes because the muscles pull in different directions,” Dr. Patel says. “It means they can’t walk properly so what we try to do is correct the position. It improves the chances of walking and getting them upright and more mobile.”
According to Dr. Patel, the splints can be used to help people with stroke, spinal cord injury, polio, multiple sclerosis, peripheral neuropathy, arthritis, and even perhaps even broken bones.
Engineering graduate students will complete clinical trials, and they hope to have results soon.
Adapted from: http://3dprint.com/48197/smart-splints/
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