Design optimisation of a thermoplastic splint

Following partial hand amputation, a post-surgery orthosis is required to hold the remaining ligaments and appendages of the patient in a fixed position to aid recovery. This type of orthosis is traditionally handmade and fabricated using laborious and qualitative techniques, which would benefit from the enhancements offered by modern 3D technologies. This study investigated the use of optical laser scanning, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Material Extrusion (ME) additive manufacturing to manufacture a polymeric splint for use in post-surgical hand amputation. To examine the efficacy of our techniques, we take an existing splint from a patient and use this as the template data for production. We found this approach to be a highly effective means of rapidly reproducing the major surface contours of the orthosis while allowing for the introduction of advanced design features for improved aesthetics, alongside reduced material consumption. Our demonstrated techniques resulted in a more lightweight and lower cost device, while the design and manufacturing elements afford greater flexibility for orthosis customisation. Ultimately, this approach provides an optimized and complete methodology for orthosis production.