Bespoke Braces. Source: 3D Systems
Bespoke Braces. Source: 3D Systems

3D Systems announced it has completed a pilot program for Bespoke Braces, customized, 3D printed braces for children and young adults suffering from scoliosis. The brace is designed to fit the patient perfectly. Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during growth spurts during puberty. Severe scoliosis can be disabling and an especially severe spinal curve can reduced the amount of space within the chest, making it difficult for the lungs to function properly.

To create the brace, a prototype check-socket brace is fitted to the patient. When the brace is considered correctly-fitted, it’s digitized to create a digital reference underlay. The brace is further adjusted as needed to specifically fit the patient. The brace is then 3D printed, using Selective Laser Sintering technology in porous patterns to reduce weight, cost and discomfort.

3D Systems is working with Dr. James Policy, MD, of Stanford University, and Robert Jensen, CPO, to test the brace. Twenty-two patients at Children’s Hospital of Oakland tested the brace and across the board, patients responded favorably.

Meredith, a 13-year old scoliosis patient stated, “[The new brace] has really changed how I view myself, and how other kids see me.” Meredith said. “My good friends, who know that I have scoliosis, think my brace is cool. Everybody else doesn't even know that I'm wearing it because the design makes it invisible even under a shirt.”

“All of our children wanted the Bespoke Brace,” Dr. Policy said. “We had a small 3D printed scale model of the brace on my desk. Once the children saw this, they all wanted one. I've never seen children respond so positively to a brace. It was so cool that once they were fitted, many were showing the brace off to their friends.”

“It will take data to convince the insurers and medical community the value of this technology, but common sense dictates that if the children like their braces and are more comfortable wearing the devices, we will see higher compliance and greater success.” Dr. Policy added. “The early data from our pilot study appears to support this. The Bespoke Brace promises to be an important advancement for these children.”