The lives of families affected by cerebral palsy could soon be made a little easier with the help of 3D printing technology. After the condition caused the tragic death of their son, a couple have set out to improve the medical care of other young sufferers. They have developed a new way to produce body braces using 3D printing and 3D scanning techniques which they now hope to make available globally following a successful crowdfunding campaign to launch their project in the UK.
Cerebral palsy is a genetic disorder that causes tightening of the muscles that can be painful and debilitating. Splints and braces can be fitted to support the patient’s body to relieve some of these symptoms. The method used to produce the orthotic devices is to make a body cast from plaster, which can be fraught with difficulties, particularly for younger patients. The cast takes around an hour to fully set, during which time the child has to lie completely still. Their continual growth necessitates frequent trips to the hospital to get new casts made, causing a lot of inconvenience and discomfor for parent and child alike.
After their son passed away, Samiya and Naveed Parvez set out to find a better method to help other parents in the same situation they had been in, eventually turning to 3D technology to solve the problem of finding effective orthoses. Naveed attended a technology conference where he saw 3D printing used to replicate steam engine parts. “The new parts were so accurate that the scratches in the paintwork of the original were perfectly reflected in the print,” he says. “I had a lightbulb moment—not just because of the technology but because of the realization that all that pain could be turned to good.”
He realized that this same 3D technology could be used to model a patient’s body and print a brace or a splint, completely eliminating the need for a plaster cast. With the help of the charity The Nominet Trust, the couple set up a medical technology company, Andiamo, named after their son Diamo and the Italian phrase meaning “Let’s Go.” They successfully crowdfunded their project on Indiegogo, and started treating patients in the UK back in December 2014.
Continue to read on http://www.3ders.org