3D printing comes to help children with disabilities

Asia-Pacific, December 31 2015

BEIJING: It’s estimated that up to 100 million people across the world could need orthotic supports – braces that help with posture and walking.

And the number keeps on growing at 6 percent per year.

But traditional basic methods of making them have create a whole set of problems, which can make the process traumatic for the patient.

A British couple now reckons they’ve found a way to revolutionise the industry using 3D printing. CRI’s Fei Fei reports.

Andiamo’s co-founder Naveed Parvez introduces their innovation using 3D printing that is a simpler and more comfortable solution to making braces and supports instead of the old plastic molds.

“The process that people go through in the Andiamo service is you get 3D scanned, which takes anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds, and that gets a 3D image that’s accurate to under a millimetre, and that 3D image is turned into a medical device using a computer edited design, and then that’s sent to a 3D printer, that’s fitted and then you’re sent away. So rather than taking six months and a very distressing process it can take less than a week.”

The current 3D technology in orthotic care mostly concentrates on orthopaedic wear, namely shoes and related foot supports.

The London-based company feels they can fill the gap by making orthotic supports for people with disabilities, especially children.

The other co-founder Samiya Parvez explains.

“We’re talking about back braces, hand splints, leg splints anything that supports your posture, helps you to walk or even helps you to sit up straight so you can concentrate on your head if you’ve got very low head control. So things that would help you maintain good posture and hopefully reduce the need for surgery later or help you to get to a point where surgery would be more successful.”

The Parvez’s thought of the idea after losing their nine-year-old son Diamo in 2012.

Diamo had cerebral palsy and needed constant care and orthotic support.

Taking care of Diamo was a tough task, while the process of fitting and using traditional orthotics made it even more difficult and cumbersome, as explained in a promotion video for Andiamo.

Going one step further, the pair has also set up an online platform so that clinicians can track the design and progress of orthotics.

The big data gathered would also deliver better communication between clinicians and families, as well as future research and treatments.

The couple is also looking to open their own clinic, privately at first, and then later work with the UK’s National Health Service.

Ultimately they hope to serve a thousand families by the end of 2017, and 100 thousand by the end of 2020.

Source: CRI, Xinhua

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