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3D Printing Speeds Development of Comfortable Crutches

The White House Maker Faire in June included a lot of innovative, 3D print-enabled designs. One of them was a set of more comfortable crutches designed by students at Georgia Tech University.


Better Walk used 3D printing to speed their prototyping process. Image: Better Walk

The students launched their start-up company, Better Walk, in 2013, and have already signed up some customers and attracted investors.

According to the company’s founders, 3D printing enables a high degree of personalization for the crutches. The technology also helped speed the prototyping process, since they could rapidly integrate feedback from orthopedists during the product development phase.

“We were able to create visual demonstrations of different iterations and changes suggested to us by orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, and within a few weeks after the suggestions were made, take in the updated design for further feedback,” CEO and co-founder Partha Unnava told MedCity News.

Among the innovations in the crutches are an angled hand grip and attaché dholster, which provides more wrist and forearm support, along with a side contact piece to help users avoid putting weight on their underarms. This removes force from the user’s underarm, and reduces direct force on the user’s wrist.

Unnava was actually inspired to design the crutches after breaking his ankle playing basketball. After experiencing underarm pain from using traditional crutches, he and two other biomedical engineering students designed an alternative model.

The crutches cost $120. The company is initially targeting orthopedic clinics, since they have more flexibility to adopt (and be reimbursed for) new technologies. Better Walk also participated in Zero to 510, a device accelerator program.

Source: Better Walk

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