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Title: Digitisation of the splinting process : exploration and evaluation of a computer aided design approach to support additive manufacture
Author: Paterson, Abby
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2013
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Upper extremity splinting is a popular treatment method for a range of conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The intent of this treatment approach is multifaceted, but fundamentally, the provision of tools to enable and encourage patients to carry out everyday activities and to improve their quality of life is paramount. However, the aesthetic and functional limitations of wrist immobilisation splints demonstrate various weaknesses in terms of wear duration and frequency. Patient compliance is often compromised due to a number of factors, including the perceived stigma associated with assistive devices. Additive Manufacturing (AM) has proved its worth in a number of applications relating to the design of assistive devices; builds of complex, bespoke fitting geometries make AM an ideal fabrication method for upper extremity splints. However, recent advances in system technology to enable multi-material builds have been limited in this field, and a distinct need for a specialised three-dimensional (3D) Computer Aided Design (CAD) software approach is required to allow therapists to design splints for AM. Furthermore, the intent to keep practising therapists at the forefront of splint prescription is of utmost importance. This research proposes a digitised splinting approach, specifically through development of a 3D CAD software strategy to allow therapists to capture their design intent without compromising creativity. Furthermore, the approach proposes the exploration of AM build capabilities by allowing the integration of more creative features, such as aesthetically pleasing lattice structures for increased skin ventilation. The approach also proposes the integration of multiple materials to replicate and improve upon current splint design and fabrication practises. The approach therefore explores an exciting new paradigm for upper extremity splinting, the driving characteristics of which have not been proposed before as a collective medium. This research describes the feasibility of capturing therapists design intent in a 3D CAD virtual environment, whilst capturing therapists opinions of the approach with suggestions for future research and development. Results concluded that therapists were excited by the proposed transition in AM splinting, but that significant development is required elsewhere to establish a supporting infrastructure in order to make the approach a viable option in future upper extremity splinting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Loughborough University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Upper extremity splinting ; Wrist splint ; Orthosis ; Additive manufacturing ; Design intent ; Customisation ; Custom fit ; Occupational therapy ; Physiotherapy