Patient specific ankle-foot orthoses using rapid prototyping

3D printed ankle-foot orthotics for functionality and comfort. plus medica OT

Prefabricated orthotic devices are currently designed to fit a range of patients and therefore they do not provide individualized comfort and function. Custom-fit orthoses are superior to prefabricated orthotic devices from both of the above-mentioned standpoints. However, creating a custom-fit orthosis is a laborious and time-intensive manual process performed by skilled orthotists.

Besides, adjustments made to both prefabricated and custom-fit orthoses are carried out in a qualitative manner. So both comfort and function can potentially suffer considerably. A computerized technique for fabricating patient-specific orthotic devices has the potential to provide excellent comfort and allow for changes in the standard design to meet the specific needs of each patient.


The rapidly prototyped orthoses fabricated in this study provided good fit of the subject’s anatomy compared to a prefabricated AFO while delivering comparable function (i.e. mechanical effect on the biomechanics of gait). The rapid fabrication capability is of interest because it has potential for decreasing fabrication time and cost especially when a replacement of the orthosis is required.

In this paper, we presented a process to combine state of the art 3D scanning hardware and software technologies for human surface anatomy with advanced RP techniques so that novel custom made orthoses and rehabilitation devices can be rapidly produced.

Two custom-fit AFOs were rapidly prototyped to demonstrate the proposed process. Preliminary biomechanical data from gait analyses of one subject wearing the AFOs indicated that the RP AFOs can match the performance of the standard, prefabricated, polypropylene design.

This new platform technology for developing custom-fit RP orthoses has the potential to provide increased freedom with geometric features, cost efficiencies and improved practice service capacities while maintaining very high quality-of-service standards.

In the long run, this technology aims at bringing the manufacturing of orthoses from the current manual labor/expert craftsman’s skills to a 21st century computerized design process. The proposed technology has the potential for increasing the numbers of patients serviced per year per orthotist while reducing overall the orthosis fabrication cost and time.


Patient specific ankle-foot orthoses using rapid prototyping, Mavroidis C, Ranky RG, Sivak ML, Patritti BL, DiPisa J, Caddle A, Gilhooly K, Govoni L, Sivak S, Lancia M, Drillio R, Bonato P. J Neuroeng Rehabil. 2011 Jan 12;8:1. doi: 10.1186/1743-0003-8-1. Full text

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