T + T – normal size
The Luna system, a new approach to ankle orthosis design for children and individuals with inherited spastic paraplegia. This affects about 140 cases per million people worldwide each year. This unique design, which appeared on James Dyson’s list of the 20 best innovations, allows the leg and ankle to be adjusted and stretched as the user’s body grows, through a modular device.
Inherited spastic paraplegia is the most common form of vasculitis in children, one of the main features of which is a gradual gait disturbance.
For his part, the creator of the new device, researcher Aaron Nguyen, at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, said he lived with relatives with inherited spastic paraplegia and realized that current orthodontic appliances do not care for users as they grow up. , because the forms of rigid thermoplastics, which are used in the construction of hardware, are extremely narrow to give the user optimal support. As the number of users, especially children, increases, this often leads to bleeding, ulcers and sores.
The innovator stated on the James Dyson website that the problem stems from systematic defects in the manufacturing process, which relies heavily on the skills and experience of orthopedists and manufacturers.
The “Luna” device includes two systems, the first is a user-specific component called “Luna Surface” and a component that is being produced in large quantities, called “Luna Installable Units”. The latter acts as the basis for bonding “luna surfaces”, extending use for several years instead of 6 to 8 months on conventional equipment. When the Luna device is considered too small, new surfaces replace existing ones.
Luna surfaces consist of 3D printed parts that are designed to fit the shape of each individual user. The parts use 3D printers and scanning technology to digitize the production process, which now incorporates complex casting and molding techniques. According to the innovator, digitalization reduces the number of silent skills required by manufacturers and leads to orthotics with more consistent accuracy. The surfaces are printed on a semi-flexible ‘Nylon 11’ bioplastic, where the design treats the material to smooth out sensitive areas and identifies when parts are too small.
In the early stages, the project conducted a thorough investigation of the symptoms and common requirements of a child with inherited spastic paraplegia. From the information gathered, an attempt was made to understand the problem from a physiological and biomechanical point of view. With this knowledge, the project developed an initial concept of using a modular component corresponding to the growth of children, then the project used this initial concept as a basis for communicating and talking with professionals in the field, including physiotherapists, orthopedists, pediatric orthodontists. and biomechanics engineers. The additional information gathered in these interviews was crucial, according to Aaron Nguyen.
The design was then developed through an iterative process of sketching ideas, physical prototypes, CAD models, and other analytical step prototypes that support design decisions between each process. Those analytical steps included user’s travel map, service map, follow-up industry interviews, material analysis, and autopsies. The iterative process allowed the examination of all aspects of the design from the factory to the end user, providing a holistic approach to the design, according to the innovator.
Currently, the most common method in equipment for children with illness is the traditional method made of vacuum-formed thermoplastics. The new “Luna” device differs from the traditional one through the modular system that allows it to grow with the user.
Another big change is the comprehensive approach, according to the innovator, where Luna takes design stakeholders into account. For the end user, physical modularity and flexibility offer a more comfortable solution. For parents, the design appears when the device becomes too small, allowing them to monitor the situation and adjust the device as needed. Moreover, the modular system is prefabricated, creating a more cost-effective generic alternative. Finally, for professionals and manufacturers, the system provides an open platform that uses a digital process to create an accessible production process and a more consistent calendar.
Market research site DataAntelo expects the global ankle orthotics market to grow at an annual rate of 7.5% over the period 2021-2028, due to the increasing prevalence of neurological disorders and injuries, the increasing number of the elderly and the technological ones. progress.