A Father in New Zealand Creates 3D Printed ‘Smart Splints’ to Help His Son Walk Comfortably

A 14 year old in New Zealand, James Wilson, suffers from Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. It’s a kind of epilepsy that left him disabled, and as a result, he needs to wear molds on his feet to help him walk.The molds were hot, uncomfortable, and expensive till now.

James’ father, Dr. Douglas Wilson, is a senior lecturer and the head of Auckland University’s transport engineering group, and it pained him to see his son’s discomfort. Thats why Dr. Wilson decided to think of a way to free his son from the splints. As it stood, the splints took three months to be custom made in the United States — and they also cost a whopping $1,000 a pair.

So Dr. Wilson contacted pediatric neurologist Dr. Rakesh Patel with an idea to resolve the issue.The result of their collaboration, working on 3D printing with Professor Xun Xu, a professor and lecturer, has been a brace that has been cheaper, better, and faster to create aimed at providing a hope of walking in comfort to children.

They call it the Smart Splint, as well as the molds used to make it cost only $50 and took just a day to make. The splints help encourage motion that is easier and helps to realign the youngster’s feet. The splints are set to go through trials together with the support of four universities, and the team expect to patent and commercialize the technology to print legs for amputees worldwide as well.

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