A Glasgow University is stepping up to the game in a project which is using 3D printing technology.
The project called A-Footprint is aimed at helping people with ankle and foot problems.
Glasgow Caledonian University is leading the £4 million project with Maastricht University along with partners from across seven different EU countries.
A-Footprint’s aim is to develop personalised soles and splints for people with orthopaedic difficulties which are cost effective and made quickly to order using a brand new printing technology.
At the moment, using the current plaster cast and mould method, it can take up to six weeks for one set of plastic splints to be tailor-made and heavy moulds have to be stored for months on end – patients often having to take them home because of limited storage facilities in hospitals.
The innovative project hopes to help people with a variety of problems, from common problems such as flat feet to more rehabilitation methods for people who have had a stroke. Soles and splints can be personalised and created quickly, aiming at sending patients home with them on the very same day they are measured up.
Professor Jim Woodburn of Rehabilitation, who is the project coordinator, has been working on this since the launch in October 2009.
He said, “It opens the door to a huge range of applications, including the manufacture of better and more efficient orthotics, resulting in quicker recovery times, reduced symptoms and improved functional ability for those suffering from conditions which afflict the foot and lower leg.”
New technology used by the project can be used to test cures as well as creating soles and splints so new research into solving problems quickly or preventing problems from happening will also be advanced.