3D customised immobilisation devices and their benefits in the rehabilitation process

By
Lander Veulemans
May 3, 2019

After a surgical intervention or severe sports injury, a patient should initiate the rehabilitation process as early as practicable. The main goal of rehabilitation is to reduce pain, stiffness and functional limitations, but also to increase the strength and endurance of muscles. Additionally, enhancing posture and coordination or balance are vital. Because the use of orthoses is inevitable in most cases, Spentys wants to highlight the importance of such orthopedic medical devices and more particularly the 3D printed ones. The following article will be focused on underlining the benefits of 3D printed orthopedic devices, with an emphasis on sports injuries.

Man playing soccer

Because returning from injury is often accompanied by a large amount of exercise, a waterproof brace would definitely prove its value. The material used for the additive manufacturing process is chosen in a way that it can be worn under the shower without any further complications. Moreover, the sweat is unavoidable and would not influence the brace, as it is the case with the original plasters where it can cause irritations to the skin resulting in redness and itchiness. Fortunately, the Spentys casts are air permeable and would significantly reduce these common features, thereby increasing the athlete’s comfort.

When a physiotherapist decides to initiate aquatic therapy, these braces can also show their benefits. The athlete can easily continue this therapy wearing their 3D printed cast to regain mobility and strengthen weakened muscles using the water as accommodating resistance matching the patient’s applied force or effort. If the physiotherapist decides to advance aquatic therapy without any kind of bracing, Spentys brings an ideal solution as their braces are easily removed and re-applied via self-adhesive straps. These bindings have several other advantages. For instance, they allow the initiation of manual physiotherapy sooner than a traditional plaster because of the possibility of taking off the brace and reattaching it later. It is known that manual physiotherapy can positively impact clinical outcomes, including pain relief.

3D printed customised immobilisation devices

In addition to previous techniques, the effectiveness of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound for fracture healing can be ameliorated. Again, the temporary removal of the brace shows its advantage by ensuring complete contact of the LIPUS-sensor with the skin. In that way, the time for fracture union is reduced and the patient’s quality of life is improved.  

The 3D printing technology and software that Spentys provides allows production of a brace which is perfectly fitted to the patient’s anatomy. Even if the injured has an irregular morphology of a body part, the modeling process of the 3D printed brace can overcome such issues. For example, when the patient underwent surgery, the scar or wound can be left uncovered without destabilizing the brace so the healing and grooming can occur in a conventional manner.  

Kids playing rugby

The solidity and flexibility of the custom-made braces Spentys produces are very divergent and depend on the type of pathology or rehabilitation. When the doctor wants immediate mobilization of the injured body part, which is recommended for most athletes, the 3D printer can grant the specialist’s wish by modifying the thickness and material of the brace. An extra feature of the Spentys solution is the possibility to select the design and color of the splints. This is very convenient when performing sports where a one-color outfit is paramount, e.g. in football. Another interesting application of these braces is that they are very lightweight (<100gr). In this way, the use of this 3D print in a sports setting is facilitated.

When returning for a doctor's visit, it is very simple and time-saving to make a clear diagnosis of recovery. The traditional plaster does not have to be sawn before the doctor is able to manually test the patient’s clinical outcomes. Moreover, an x-ray examination to determine fracture healing becomes an easy task. In this case, removal of the brace isn’t necessary. The x-ray beams can easily pass through the 3D-printed material.  

To conclude, 3D printed immobilisation devices can offer many benefits both in a patient-related as in an athlete-related environment. Treatment-initiation time is reduced and other important advantages raise clinical outcomes to a higher level.

References

Revalidatie na gewrichtsoperatie of sportblessure

https://gezondheidsvakanties.be/revalidatie-gewrichtsoperatie-sportblessure/

Prins, J., & Cutner, D. (1999). Aquatic therapy in the rehabilitation of athletic injuries. Clinics in sports medicine, 18(2), 447-461.

Bishop, M. D., Torres-Cueco, R., Gay, C. W., Lluch-Girbés, E., Beneciuk, J. M., & Bialosky, J. E. (2015). What effect can manual therapy have on a patient's pain experience?. Pain management, 5(6), 455-64.

Ultrasound

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrasound

The effects of low-intensity pulsed ultrasound on fresh fracture: A meta-analysis.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28953676

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