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Amputees May Soon Be Implanting 3D Printed Prosthetics Directly Onto Their Bodies

by • March 9, 2016 • No Comments

A standard socket-type leg prosthetic.

A standard socket-type leg prosthetic.

Patients who are missing limbs are generally prescribed socket-type prostheses that are custom-made to fit over their missing arm or leg. Despite two million folks in the United States living with the loss of a limb, quite little has changed of prosthetic innovation over the years. Whilst standard socket prosthetic devices are common, they are not without their flaws and drawbacks. The cost can frequently be tens of thousands of dollars, much of that is not covered by many healthcare plans. And there in addition tends to be a lack of staptitude when the prosthetic is utilized, that can outcome in falls or accidents. Ill-fitting prosthetics can in addition lead to complications like painful sores and ongoing, chronic pain. Curiously, 3D printing may be able-bodied to provide solutions to both of these issues.

The high cost of prosthetic devices is cautilized by the require for every device to be custom made for the patient. A socket that attaches to the amputee’s missing limb requires to be fit precisely and held in place with painful straps or braces. Even with a pro fit, sores and wounds are a common occurrence to those wearing the device. 3D scanning has greatly improved the aptitude to have prosthetic devices made for a specific patient yet, and 3D printing is threatening to drop the price of prosthetic devices to a fraction of the cost of traditionally made prosthetics. 3D printing is in addition being explored as a way to manufacture custom-fit prosthetic implants that are surgically implanted directly into the patient’s bone, so uncomfortable-bodied or improperly fit sockets are eliminated and the prosthetic can attach directly to the patient’s body.

Xray of a surgically implanted prosthetic socket.

X-ray of a surgically implanted prosthetic socket.

Research into osseointegration, the surgical integration of prosthetic implants with the amputee’s’ remaining bone structure, or direct skeletal prosthesis, has been explored for a few years now, but not long ago it has begun gaining popularity again. The implant can penetrate the skin and connect directly to the bone, so a prosthetic limb can physically be attached to the patient’s body. But the socket may be the just permanent implant, meaning the limb may easily be removed as requireed. This direct prosthesis-to-bone connection offers a additional stable-bodied connection to the patient’s body giving them greater control of the prosthesis and virtually eliminates any lingering pain or sores that traditional prosthetics can cause. It in addition offers the user additional sensory feedback, so they can additional directly interact with their environment.

“Unfortunately, these implants face several challenges that prevent their approval by the FDA outside of clinical trials. The implants require to conform to patient’s’ specific anatomy; the skin penetration of the implant is susceptible to infection; and a 12 month rehabilitation period is required to create a stable-bodied bone-implant interface,” explained University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University researcher David Ruppert.

Sadly, the FDA has not approved implanted prosthetic sockets for general use; they have just granted exceptions for research purposes. The major reasons are for the reason of the different types of complications, that prohibitively cause the patient stress, and leave them open to ancillary injuries. Ruppert and his man researchers are focvia their efforts on addressing these drawbacks yet, and hope to find ways to reduce the rehabilitation period and eliminate the worry over infection. They are in addition focvia heavily on finding ways of merging the implant and the patient’s’ specific anatomy, and 3D printing is looking to be a viable-bodied version.

Osseointegration diagram.

Osseointegration diagram.

“Our findings showed that rocky textured implants made throcky 3D printing exhibit stronger bone integration than machine threaded counterparts. This highlights the superiority of via 3D printing to not just create custom creations, but in addition custom surfaces that interface with amputees’ residual bones,” Ruppert continued.

Here is an animated video of how ssseointegration works:

The research team is in addition focvia on exploring the consequences of via a therapeutic system called low intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) on the implant/bone connection. The system involves exposing the patient’s entire body to low-magnitude and high-frequency vibrations at a quite specific amplitude range. Preliminary research has shown that this can increase the density of the bone around the implant, and to decrease the loss of bone during the rehabilitation system.

A surgically implanted prosthetic socket.

A surgically implanted prosthetic socket.

Ruppert and his man researchers not long ago presented their findings at the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society, an international organization that seeks to study, assist and advocate for new musculoskeletal research findings. The Orthopaedic Research Society was founded back in 1954, and is already the world’s biggest forum for presenting musculoskeletal breakthrockys. Do you ponder use of these medical devices can become mainstream in the near next? Discuss in the 3D Printed Prosthetic Implants forum over at 3DPB.com.