During this PhD, I focused on gait analysis and comparison of several treatments (foot orthosis, knee braces and corticosteroid injection) for the management of the medial knee osteoarthritis. After my PhD, I worked at Laval University for setting new experimentation and training master students before joining KNEEMO network in May 2015 as experienced researcher.
Personalised knee braces for knee osteoarthritis using additive manufacturing
Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a major cause of disability and leads to significant decline in activity among people over 50 years old. Up to now, no cure exists for this disease and treatments aim to relief pain, reduce symptoms and slow down disease progression. KOA disease often leads to misaligned knees causing an increase of loading on the affected compartment. This additional loading may augment the pain and is a risk factor for disease progression. Knee braces aim to unload the affected compartment of the knee for alleviating pain and reduce symptoms and then improving daily life and delay the surgery. Currently, over 40 different knee braces exist with different shapes, features and mechanisms. Scientific research show that knee braces lead from 10% to 50% of pain relief and 5% of unloading. However, most of the patients abandon this treatment in the first 6 months whereas it is necessary to regularly use it in order to benefit from their effects. Main complaints reported by patients are bad fitting, discomfort, bulkiness, more drawback than advantages, irritation, slipping and/or the lack of effects. The project at Peacocks Medical Group aims to design and develop a new personalised knee brace using additive manufacturing (AM) to meet the needs of the patients.
The project is divided into the different stages of a product design and development: planning, concept development, system-level design, detail design and testing and refinement. In the concept development stage, it is important to take into account the advantages of the AM technology. Thus, unlike conventional manufacturing, AM allows to make parts of virtually any complexity of geometry entirely without the need for tooling. Moreover, for achieving this project, the major parts will be to define material, mechanism, design and fitting method.
Impact and Dissemination
The final objective of this project is not to have one brace among the many others, but to have a revolutionary one that becomes a worldwide reference in the management of the KOA. Additive manufacturing is the best tools for creating an individualized device using the benefits of this technology, to perfectly fit knee brace with the complex geometry of the lower limb. Therefore, the final knee brace will be adjustable to the shape and needs of each patient. At the end, this new knee brace will lead to better compliance for the knee brace treatment and try to avoid or delay the knee surgery for the patients affected by KOA.