The use of CAD/CAM technology in prosthetics and orthotics–current clinical models and a view to the future.
CAD/CAM technology has proved to save both time and money in O&P clinical practice. In the early 90’s the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) made an investment in CAD/CAM at near about 37 centers across its network. As per reports, after approximately 18 months, CAD/CAM lessened costs to the VA system by $5 million.
Previously CAD/CAM was primarily been embraced as a business solution by companies that had large prosthetic practices. But recently there are some changes as technological developments have improved the way the shapes are captured, offering more flexibility to quickly digitize any size or shape required to build an orthosis.
The advanced software is used to modify the virtual shapes to enhance improvement and enable better manipulations of the limbs as well. Owing to these reasons, it is feasible to use CAD/CAM in orthotics as a legal time-saving tool. In reference to this, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children (TSRHC) initiated to use CAD/CAM for all of its scoliosis braces.
In this article, we examine the current clinical uses of CAD/CAM in prosthetics and orthotics. The article spans around reports from different interviews conducted to contrast patterns of CAD/CAM used in different private practice settings, at two different academic institutions, and within two large Prosthetic and Orthotic delivery systems.
The investigation into these patterns of use has unveiled several lessons. First, there exists several very different models of use in clinical practice and these different models will most likely to continue. The clinical models range from all conventional techniques with no usage of CAD/CAM, to full in-house suites of CAD/CAM equipment with extensive utilization and minimal fabrication and a total dependency on central fabrication.
Second, a growing number of prosthetic and orthotic devices are successfully being fabricated and fit with CAD/CAM technology after starting the process with simple measurements instead of casted, scanned, or digitized exact anatomic data.
Third, the fabrication techniques that are currently being used with CAD systems are still rather conventional techniques. Most devices are still laminated or formed over computer carved models. Although research is being continues into advanced fabrication techniques, the prosthetics and orthotics industry has not yet taken advantage of the possibilities in the CAM side of the equation.
Finally, the business of manufacturing and selling up-to-date CAD/CAM equipment and software has a tremendous impact on how this technology is used in prosthetics and orthotics.
Current users of CAD systems have expressed concern that upgrading equipment and software might not be economical with today’s reducing revenues. Owing to these reasons many believe that the number of practitioners who use a central fabrication model will grow rapidly than the number of practitioners who own and operate a full in-house system.
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