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Title: Soft non-fouling hydrogel systems for additive manufacture of prosthetic socket components
Author: Sallstrom, Nathalie
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 8482
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2020
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Current limb prostheses have limitations when it comes to both functionality and comfort. Feedback such as proprioceptive feedback (information regarding limb movement and position) is important for controlling the device, yet most current prosthesis provide no user feedback. Moreover, residual limbs are prone to dimensional changes over time, but current prosthetic sockets do not take this into consideration. This means that the socket does not properly fit, leading to changed force distribution which can affect the gait and cause discomfort to the user. The aim of this work is to develop a material which can be used within a new type of fully integrated prosthetic device which is connected to the user's own nervous system and can be produced though additive manufacturing. The material developed is aimed to be soft enough to adapt to changes in dimension of the residual limb as well as providing a biocompatible surface to establish a connection between the device and the user's nervous system. Herein a nano-clay crosslinked hydrogel was developed and characterised using thermal (DSC, OIT, TGA, DMA), spectroscopy (UV-vis, NMR, Mass spec) and mechanical (tensile, compression, lap-shear, hardness) characterisation techniques. Cell culture studies using a neuroblastoma cell line were conducted using fluorescent staining and viability assay (AlamarBlueTM) to evaluate the neural compatibility of the material. The additive manufacturability of the material is also evaluated and the effect of different printing parameters on mechanical properties investigated. The developed hydrogel system showed to be self-healing, highly elastic, noncytotoxic with excellent additive manufacturability (syringe extrusion-based printing). The material showed to recover remarkably well from compression forces and have a low modulus which means that the material can potentially adapt to the changes in dimension of a residual limb to improve the comfort and the fit of the socket. Aging of the pre-gel suspension showed to cause a significant reduction in mechanical properties of the hydrogels, this has not been reported on previously. Interestingly this reduction of properties could be reversed by printing the material at a slower speed and curing the material while printing. The result from this research shows promising abilities of the material to be used within its intended application.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: hydrogel nanocomposites ; additive manufacturing ; next generation prosthetics