The present invention relates to design and fabrication of new supports; which are in fact polymer-metal composite supports for finger, foot and spine. They are made of a soft polymer with inserted sheets of aluminum, steel or carbon-fiber. The optimal models are strong, and allow for size and finger position adjustments, and can be used for patients who already have distorted fingers and are working on them to regain some functions. These accommodations have not been addressed by any current finger or foot support and currently, there are no support in the market which can accommodate these advantages. The available supports are made of rough fabrics/Velcro straps, or thermoset plastics without any flexibility. Also, most of them cannot be used for functional positions, whereas with this new support (either for the finger or foot), the patients can wear them and do their normal life tasks.
Finger deformation is very common and has many causes and severity. The finger support would be beneficial for patients with painful arthritis and other diseases, and have finger deformity. Most of the available finger supports are not resizable and comfortable. They are mainly designed to fully restrict the finger’s motion when there has been any type of injury. However, for example in the case of early stages of arthritis, the patient should be able to use them whenever they want. Furthermore, the available finger supports cannot be adjusted considering various fingers’ sizes and positions.
Many models of a polymer-metal composite finger support are designed. Extensive finite element analysis of the support under the distributed loads of the finger, confirmed by the results obtained by a MATLAB program, shows that the new support tolerates the applied forces without any permanent deformation. Finally, the fabricated part using 3D printing and also mechanical testing of the supports validate the results.
The present invention is also related to the design and fabrication of a hallux-valgus or bunion support for the human foot. Hallux-valgus is commonly known as bunions and is a deformity occurring in a large amount of the population. Most individuals who suffer from this deformity have trouble walking due to the displacement of the hallux or largest toe placing pressure on the joints resulting in pain for the individual during movement. Current methods for hallux valgus correction require extensive surgery and extended recovery times. The use of the support for correction will allow the patient to wear the device daily and provides a noninvasive method to correct the deformity. The foot support is to be constructed using a combination of polymer and metal inserts to provide the corrective support. The models chosen for analysis and fabrication allow the patient to wear the support at any stage of deformity to allow for the correction process to begin. Design features built into the design allow for simple manufacturing and changes to be made as the patient’s recovery progresses. The models were designed and analyzed using Solidworks finite element analysis and constructed using 3D printing techniques to validate the findings.