3-D Printing and Physical Therapy: “Ctrl+Physical Therapy”

3D printing has been the new up and coming technology “boom” of the 21st century. 3D printing continues to grow in our schools, hospitals, businesses, etc. so it was only a matter of time before it was introduced to the physical therapy world. Most of the time in the clinic, patients joke around about the idea of “attaching a new part.” This is where three-dimensional printing comes in. In today’s world, this type of printing helps create custom assistive devices as well as items such as prosthetics and orthotics.

This past years APTA Combined Sections Meeting, Dr. Karen Gordes from the University of Maryland-Baltimore was part of a panel along with Dr. Robert Latz and two others that spoke about the idea of 3D printing in the field of physical therapy. Dr. Gordes discussed the advantages of using the 3D printing to apply modifications to assistive devices such as crutches, walkers, canes etc. Additionally, Dr. Lutz spoke about how he has used the 3D printing to cut costs. For example, he was able to make custom devices that would have taken six weeks to produce and cost thousands of dollars for only $20 in a matter of 24 hours. With that kind of turnaround, it is evident that patients would be able to get the tools that they need in a time efficient matter to improve their quality of life.

Furthermore, a study performed in August 2019 looked at the testing of a 3D printed hand exoskeleton for post stroke patients. This study consisted of taking an outcome measure such as the Fugl-Meyer Assessment and looked at the differences in scoring with and without the use of the hand exoskeleton. This study resulted in finding that the inexpensive exoskeleton was able to improve scores and outcomes in the Fugl-Meyer as well as was able to further prove that 3D printing can be an efficient tool.

Overall, technology continues to play a major role in our lives. Three-Dimensional printing continues to be an emerging science that is now entering the world of health care specifically physical therapy. Patients who are candidates to benefit from 3D printing can now benefit from modern tools to improve their quality of life and function. Physical Therapists have now found a more cost-effective way of addressing functional limitations and providing innovative care. Here at Advanced PMR, we are continuing to provide the finest in health care and are trying to better ourselves each day. Although we may not have a three-dimensional printer currently, we are always looking for new ways to help our valued patients.

 

References:

Loria, Keith. “A New Dimension in Physical Therapy.” PT in Motion, Sept. 2019, pp. 26–34.

Testing of a 3D Printed Hand Exoskeleton for an Individual … https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17483107.2019.1646823.

Posted in: Physical Therapy

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