April 3, 2017

Students Design Aid for Prosthetic Fittings

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From left, students Michael Young, Brian Ying, Isabel Gonzalez, Regina Barcio, and Chinwe Appio-Riley have developed a stand to help patients steady themselves while being fitted for lower-limb prostheses. Photograph courtesy of Jeff Fitlow/Rice University.

Students at Rice University reconfigured an exercise machine to create a casting stand that provides support for patients who must stand during lower-limb prosthetic fittings. The students—Michael Young, Isabel Gonzalez, Brian Ying, Regina Barcio, and Chinwe Appio-Riley—chose the project during a freshman engineering class that challenged them to find practical solutions for real-world problems. The project was requested by the Hanger Clinic at Texas Medical Center, Houston, to increase patient comfort during fittings and help the final prostheses fit better.

“Right now, they use parallel bars, so the patients have to support themselves with just their hands,” Barcio said. “And bigger patients can’t really use the bars.”

The stand, dubbed the Castaway, was built at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. It features a backrest and adjustable armrests to help patients balance and stabilize themselves as they stand on one leg for extended periods. It is designed for patients from three feet six inches tall to six feet six inches tall.

“The key thing about being casted is being able to stand upright,” Appio-Riley said. “That way, when they make the mold for a leg, it fits perfectly. If the patient is slouching a little bit, it can mess up the mold and it won’t be comfortable.”

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Rice University.

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