Rational design for 3D printable spinal orthoses

Nowadays, we see 3D printing technologies emerging in the healthcare system through the generation of 3D Labs in hospitals that have been shown important to improve patient care. By giving physicians the autonomy to use 3D technologies, it allows them to design and deliver personalized solutions that, for critical cases, best fit the patient’s needs. However, it is still missing a way to deliver such solutions in an integrated and streamlined way.
This presentation will show you how do we, in the 3DMED project, developed a structured workflow to integrate digital 3D printing technologies applied to the design and manufacturing of scoliosis braces.

Scoliosis braces are medical devices used for the correction of spinal deformities in patients with idiopathic scoliosis between the age of 10-18 years old. These patients typically have to wear a tailored made brace for almost 24h a day. So far, the design and manufacturing of scoliosis braces involve a number of manual and empirical steps based on the experience and knowledge of Certified Prosthetist Orthotists (CPO). Recently, the integration of digitalization and Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies allow a more thorough analysis over the biomechanics of spinal correction in patients with scoliosis, thus bringing more functionality and specificity to the design process. Together with VIGO, a Belgium company, which is a worldwide leader in the development of external orthopedic devices, including spinal braces, we have been able to address the challenge and go from clinical images to the design and production of two optimized 3D printed braces.

This is a presentation by Maria Cristiana Costa, Biomedical Engineer at Ghent University.


Question 1: What drives you?
The driving force of my research is the search for more objective and systematic methodologies that can help to improve and make more efficient the design of clinical treatments for patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).

Question 2: Why should the delegate attend your presentation?
In my presentation I’ll give you my view on how the conventional design and manufacturing processes of scoliosis braces can be improved by the integration of digital and AM processes, and some insights on how to integrate those technologies in a streamlined way in the routine of medical industries and services.

Question 3: What emerging technologies / trends do you see as having the greatest potential in the short and long run?
I believe there will be a growth in the use of AM technologies in the field of patient-specific prosthetic and orthotic devices. Due to the less tight regulatory chain involved for the design and manufacturing of such devices, when compared to implants, and the high demand for patient-specific treatment solutions to tackle the individuality of each subject for a certain treatment.

Question 4: What kind of impact do you expect them to have?
Centered in the patient clinical treatments, improvement in quality and efficiency of the clinical industries and services.

Question 5: What are the barriers that might stand in the way?
As an emerging technology 3D printing needs to prove its advantage comparing to conventional production methods in terms of functionality and prices.

About Ghent University
Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major universities in Belgium. Our 11 faculties offer more than 200 courses and conduct in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains. Ghent University Global Campus is also the first European university in Songdo, South Korea.

What does Ghent University stand for?
Ghent University is a pluralistic university open to all, regardless of ideological, political, cultural or social background. Our credo is ‘Dare to Think’.
Ghent University was founded in 1817. In 2017, Ghent University celebrated its 200th anniversary.
As a top 100 university with more than 49,000 students and 15,000 staff members, we are one of the largest universities in the Dutch language area, located in Flanders, Belgium. Ghent University Global Campus is also the first European university in Songdo, South Korea.

Our 11 faculties offer more than 200 courses and conduct in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains. Several of our research groups, centres and institutes are renowned worldwide, in disciplines such as biotechnology, aquaculture, microelectronics, history, …

In 2017, Ghent University celebrated its 200th anniversary. Over the past 200 years, our university has seen many eminent scientists, ministers and even Nobel Prize winners among its staff and alumni.

Maria Cristiana Costa is speaker at the 2022 edition of the 3D MedTech Printing Conference.

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