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Scroll down to see my prototypical design. In addition, check out the research and development process.
Creating a low-cost knee brace option for workers that suffer from osteoarthritis.
This 3D prototype is a low-cost knee brace option for workers that suffer from osteoarthritis.
My device was intended as a low-cost, comfortable, and customizable alternative to the pre-sized, stiff, and uncomfortable options that insurance companies provide. I designed a new unloader knee brace to shift stress within the knee from the affected side to the healthier side of the joint.
Placing three points of pressure on the thigh bone, the knee is forced to bend away from the painful area of the joint. Because arthritis affects the inner portion of the knee, the brace adjusts the unloading hinge to unload the medial (inner) part of the knee.
NOTICING THE PROBLEM
At Dr. Leslie G. Levy's office, I shadow Dr. Levy's work, observing patient care, diagnosis, and treatment. Through my experience, I have learned a lot about medical terminology, diagnosis for various foot and ankle injuries, medical treatments, and engagement in the medical field in general.
"Carter is such an intuitive learner. He is always questioning how and why things are what they are. He is very easy to teach." - Dr. Levy
My experiences at Dr. Levy's office shed light to the inequalities that patients face when it comes to opportunities for timely rehabilitation. In order to combat this, I wanted to create low-cost options for patients. From my research, I discovered that it was feasible to design and to 3D-print ankle, wrist, and back braces.
IDEATING THE SOLUTION
Custom-fitted knee braces required for recovery from overuse knee injuries can increase to $800 or more (DonJoy). There is a glaring need for a customizable and comfortable, yet cost-effective knee brace on the market.
Designed for patients with osteoarthritis, I designed a low-cost, comfortable, and customizable alternative knee brace to the pre-sized, stiff, and uncomfortable options that insurance companies provide.
The brace would be printed with t-lyne, a unique crystal clear polyethylene co-polymer, the device would be constructed from a highly durable, yet flexible material. In relativity to other customizable knee braces on the market, a t-lyne 3D printed knee brace is far more cost-effective. A 1.75mm spool of t-lyne costs $35, simplifying to 40 cent per printed brace (ThreeD Materials).
Featured here is a diagram of the device, including the research and function behind each part of the design.
The viability of this product is dependent on the development of a lower cost manufacturing process, which would be 3D printing.
I require collaboration with a nonprofit who is willing to assume the cost of the braces and to provide them to people in need.
I am also in need of a national organization that can manufacture all types of braces, and provides braces to people on a income-based criteria (for instance, people who are under the federal poverty line would not pay, while people with an income over the national average of $60,000 will pay around $100 (SSA).
Success would be defined by the attainability of the desired resources above.