Apr 17, 2015
Low-cost Prosthetic Limb Socket Manufacturing Technology
At the Manufacturing Business Matching Fair, Kowagishi Laboratory exhibited technology that makes offering prosthetic limb sockets possible at prices lower than before. This technology, developed with support from the Japanese government, is used to first form a plaster model based on a 3D image derived from photos taken of the severed leg, after which a socket is created using a molding method known as bulge molding.
"For a conventional prosthetic limb socket, a cylindrical model is formed using a mold created with plaster bandages. Plaster is then poured into this, and after the dried plaster is refined by hand, plastic molding is performed to create the socket. When creating a prosthetic limb socket, there will be differences depending on superior and inferior technique. So we set about creating this manufacturing method as a way for anybody to make a prosthetic limb of the same quality."
With this technology, anybody can make a prosthetic limb in the same manner, and production times will also be shortened. Currently, acrylic resin is poured onto a carbon fiber sheet, but a decision has not yet been made on the final materials for use. In addition, the most difficult issue facing this technology is the question of how to match the socket to the patient.
"We have not reached the point of releasing it for sale, as we have just developed it. There are many facets that we need to continue improving upon, but for the future, even for overseas, I think it would be great to be able to automatically create a socket just by taking photos with a camera."
Kowagishi Laboratory is also exploring the possibility of applying this technology in the future to plastic shoe-horn braces for patients recovering from stroke.
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