Personalised Ankle Foot Orthosis

Ewoud Veltmeijer

Ewoud developed a 3D printed patient-specific ankle-foot orthosis and aimed to investigate the feasibility of integrating it into the manufacturing process.

The problem was that patients with drop foot syndrome were unable to create enough clearance when walking, causing them to trip over small obstacles. An Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) is an orthopaedic device that limits the plantar flexion of the foot, allowing the patient to walk safely. However, current vacuum-formed AFOs provide suboptimal support and increase the energy cost of walking.

Ewoud gathered information about the needs of patients with drop foot syndrome and the requirements for an ankle-foot orthosis. All stakeholders were analysed and their needs were summarised in a stakeholder map. He developed a concept for an improved AFO and created a prototype that was tested on a patient diagnosed with drop foot syndrome. Ewoud also analysed how this type of mass personalisation could be integrated into the production process at Centrum Orthopedie Rotterdam.

The new 3D-printed version is designed to provide the minimum support required, thereby reducing the energy cost of walking with an AFO. The springs on the sides have no effect when the ankle is rotated forward, while providing just enough force to ensure a safe gait. In addition, the geometric freedom of 3D printing allows for variable wall thicknesses to provide stiffness and flexibility where needed.

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