3D printing helps to create lighter and extra sturdy knee brace for aged sufferers, Singapore News & Top Stories


SINGAPORE – Resembling a smooth knee brace utilized by Batman in film The Dark Knight Rises, a brand new help known as X-Brace provides a leg as much as those that undergo from knee issues.

The lighter and extra sturdy knee brace, which is focused on the aged, has been developed in a collaboration between an area engineering agency, knee surgeons and 3D printing specialists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Knee braces are sometimes prescribed to aged sufferers to alleviate the burden on their joints, and help sufferers who’ve undergone knee surgical procedure – reminiscent of for torn ligaments.

Dr Jeffrey Chew, an orthopaedic surgeon below the Centre for Orthopaedics, famous {that a} frequent situation amongst aged sufferers is knee osteoarthritis – the “wear and tear” of the knee joints – which impacts 40 per cent of individuals above 70.

“Knee osteoarthritis can significantly affect quality of life, causing daily pain, weakness and instability,” he mentioned at a media preview of the knee brace on Wednesday (Dec 15).

Conventional knee braces are round 1kg in weight and designed to limit one’s motion by stopping the knee from bending past a sure angle, he famous.

“So we wanted to create a knee brace which is lighter in weight – but also provides the patient with support when they move, especially for those who have difficulty standing up, walking or climbing stairs due to weak and painful knees,” mentioned Dr Chew.

In 2017, he approached Mr Fabian Ong, govt director of native engineering agency Delsson Singapore to provide you with a design. Delsson labored with NTU on the prototyping course of and product design iterations utilizing 3D printing.

The group ultimately decreased the burden of the brace to round 720g – 30 per cent lighter than the normal exoskeleton knee brace. It is constructed from plastic, as an alternative of the everyday metallic orthopaedic braces that weigh greater than 1kg.

The X-Brace features a spring which gives a 3kg to 6kg raise to the consumer when standing or strolling, mentioned Mr Ong.

“The assist given is twofold – one the one hand, they’re given a raise which compensates for his or her lack of power, however then again, they’re additionally given the boldness to stroll once more, which helps them to recuperate sooner, he added.

The brace might be customised to every affected person’s wants.

Dr Chew mentioned: “The idea is to gradually wean the patient off the brace, so the doctor or physiotherapist can also adjust the strength of the brace when they are recovering.”

Dr Ho Chaw Sing, co-founder and managing director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (Namic), a platform led by NTU’s innovation and enterprise firm NTUitive, mentioned 3D printing is extraordinarily helpful for the fast creation of prototypes and light-weight intricate designs, making the method useful for this specific mission.

He added that Namic has supported greater than 240 initiatives within the final six years, of which greater than 60 are targeted on healthcare .

NTU Assistant Professor Chan Wai Lee, who’s from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the principal investigator of this mission, mentioned 3D-modelling was closely used to validate the assorted design concepts that led to the burden discount within the brace.

Mr Joel Lim, a PhD scholar in Prof Chan’s group, led the design efforts in dialogue with Delsson and 3D-printed the prototype for real-life validation exams.

“Light weight and power are essential to this mission. We first analysed the standard knee braces and their present invoice of fabric.

“We decided to change to a plastic material with an optimised structure… then designed new structures and joints that are strong enough to withstand the flex of the knee and still assist it to move in the correct direction,” mentioned Mr Lim.

At least 10 individuals have tried the brace thus far, one in every of whom is Madam Teo Lee Lee, 72, who suffers from osteoarthritis and wanted two knee replacements final yr.

After her surgical procedure, her proper leg was nonetheless very weak, and she or he had problem strolling. None of the standard knee braces labored for her, till she tried X-Brace.

“I feel a lot more confident walking with the brace, and have less difficulty standing up compared to before,” mentioned the retiree.

The X-Brace is predicted to be out there out there quickly for $1,000 – equal to the price of standard knee braces – although the worth could differ relying on the consumer’s wants.

The group are engaged on their subsequent product iteration, hoping to decrease the burden of the brace to 600g by incorporating a sleeker design that may be worn below one’s garments.

The new model will seemingly be launched within the first quarter of subsequent yr, mentioned Mr Ong. “In the future, we hope to… come up with a smart knee brace – fitted with electronic sensors to measure quantitatively if the patient is improving,” he added.

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