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3D printed braces for chronic condition scoliosis

Manufacturing Group | June 14, 2014

The Bespoke Brace promises to be an important advancement for these children.

3D printed braces for chronic condition scoliosis

Rock Hill, S.C. – 3D Systems has successfully completed a pilot program for its new Bespoke Braces, a first of its kind, personalized, 3D printed brace for children and young adults with scoliosis. In the Bespoke process, a prototype “check-socket” brace is fitted to each patient, and, when considered correct, it is digitized to create a digital reference underlay. Once digital, the brace is further manipulated and adjusted as needed, and 3D printed using 3DS' selective laser sintering (SLS) technology for optimal comfort, flexibility and durability.

3DS's personalized medical device team working in collaboration with Dr. James Policy, M.D. of Stanford University and Robert Jensen, CPO, tested 22 patients at Children's Hospital of Oakland. Across the board, patients responded favourably to the enhanced aesthetics of the brace as never before seen with traditional braces, and reported strong levels of wear and compliance.

Idiopathic scoliosis is defined as a lateral or rotational curvature of the spine that initially appears in children during the prepubescent ages of 8-13, and is currently affecting nearly 7 million Americans, 90% of which are female. The condition may often be corrected during the years of greatest spinal development with proper use of a brace. If traditional bracing does not succeed, then a 'full spinal fusion' may be necessary, where metal rods are affixed alongside the spinal column. Traditional braces take the shape of a rigid, restrictive torso shell extending from armpit to hip, exerting a strong, corrective counter-pressure against the ribs and hips. Children are required to wear such brace nearly full time for an average of 2-3 years until reaching skeletal maturity. In reality, young patients often remove the brace often enough to render the treatment ineffective and resulting in eminent surgery. 3DS' personalized Bespoke Brace removes traditional brace compliance barriers with scanned-to-fit design and breathable, lightweight, comfortable braces unique to each patient in stylish patterns.

"All of our children wanted the Bespoke Brace," according to 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."

Policy continues, "It will take data to convince the insurers and 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."

Source: 3D Systems

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