The development of innovative back braces has stagnated a bit. In part, this is because different patients have unique needs and there isn’t a comprehensive platform to test how new braces will help support different anatomies.
Now, a team of engineers at Lancaster University in the U.K. has developed a torso simulator that can help researchers to design new back braces that are perfectly tuned to the needs of different people.
The device mimics a male torso, including its mechanical characteristics, and the spine and rib cage are 3D printed from CT scans of actual patients. This gives the device the ability to closely assess how an actual patient will benefit from a given brace design.
A computer simulation takes input data from a number of sensors attached to the torso, that measure parameters such as reduction of flexion, extension, lateral bending and torsion, and helps to qualitatively evaluate the effect of different braces.
“Our simulator enables new back braces to be developed that are optimized to constrain particular motions but allow for other movements,” said Dr. David Cheneler, one of the developers of the device. “It could also help with the design of braces and supports with targeted restriction of movement, which would be beneficial for some conditions and help to reduce the risk of muscle-loss.”
Study in journal Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering: Experimental platform to facilitate novel back brace development for the improvement of spine stability
Via: Lancaster University