Scoliosis is often treated by having the patient wear a corset-like spinal brace, to help guide their curved spine back into proper alignment. Typically, in order to make these braces, a plaster mold of the wearer's torso must first be obtained. As with so many other things, however, 3D printing tech may now offer a better alternative.
Lelio Leoncini, an Italian doctor specializing in Physical Medicine and Physical Therapy, began 3D-printing experimental "orthopedic corsets" in 2014.
He has now joined the team at WASPmedical – part of the WASP (World's Advanced Saving Project) 3D-printing development group – where he is using a DeltaWASP 40 70 printer to continue his research on a larger scale.
According to Leoncini, there are several advantages to the technology.
For one thing, because the computer models for the corsets are created by performing a 3D scan of the patient, no messy application of plaster is necessary. More importantly, the corsets are also claimed to offer a more precise and comfortable fit, they can be made faster and more cost-effectively than traditional handmade braces, plus the designs can always be tweaked after the initial model has been created.
There's currently no word on when Leoncini's corsets may make their way into commercial use. In the meantime, however, Mexican startup Mediprint is already 3D-printing arm and leg casts.