3D Systems successfully completed a pilot program for novel Bespoke Braces, personalized 3D printed braces for children and young adults with scoliosis. The condition affects roughly 7 million Americans and often requires corrective measures difficult for patients to maintain. With 3D Systems’ brace, the response has been favorable among patients and exciting among medical professionals.
In collaboration with Dr. James Policy, MD of Sanford University, and Robert Jensen, CPO, 3D Systems’s personalized medical device team tested 22 patients at the Children’s Hospital of Oakland. As has been the case with the advancement of the technology’s integration into fashion, the 3D printed braces resulted in favourable resposes from the patients. The test saw a high level of compliance and wear thanks to the stylish aesthetics provided by the 3D printed model.
“All of our children wanted the Bespoke Brace,” said Dr. Policy. “We had a small 3D printed scale model of the brace on my desk. Once the children saw this, they all wanted one. I’ve never seen children respond so positively to a brace. It was so cool that once they were fitted, many were showing the brace off to their friends.”
Looking at the project and brace creation, the connection between superhero future exoskeleton aesthetics and the model 3D printed brace becomes apparent. In the Bespoke process, a prototype ‘check-socket’ brace fits to each patient, once corrected, it is digitized to create a digital reference underlay. Once digital, the brace is further manipulated and adjusted as needed, and 3D printed using 3D Systems’ selective laser sintering (SLS) process for optimal comfort, flexibility and durability. Under traditional corrective measures, Idiopathic scoliosis, a lateral or rotational curvature of the spine usually onset during the ages of 8-13, requires a cumbersome brace. The brace took the shape of a rigid and restrictive torso shell reaching from the armpit to the hip and exerted a strong, corrective counter-pressure against the ribs and hips. The brace needs to be worn for an average of 2-3 years constantly to prevent invasive surgery. Because many young people have a problem with compliance, ‘full spinal fusion’, a procedure with metal rods affixed to the spinal column, is often inevitable. 3DS’ new Bespoke Brace has been designed to alleviate the issue.
As Dr. Policy states, “It will take data to convince insurers and the medical community the value of this technology, but common sense dictates that if the children like their braces and are more comfortable wearing the devices, we will see higher compliance and greater success. The early data from our pilot study appears to support this. The Bespoke Brace promises to be an important advancement for these children.”
And they can look cool as they heal, something possible when design innovation meets medical innovation best stated by designer Scott Summit. “We typically think of design as design, and medicine as medicine, though in many cases, good design simply becomes good medicine.”
Source: 3D Systems