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Airy scoliosis brace

An off-the-shelf and repositionable scoliosis brace that the adolescent patients can wear comfortably and confidently.

  • Airy greatly improves the compliance issues by offering beautiful and comfortable designs.

  • A brief explanation of the context, problem statements, and my solution for the scoliosis brace.

    A brief explanation of the context, problem statements, and my solution for the scoliosis brace.

  • I'm looking for an off-the-shelf brace that's easily adjustable to fit target users in the ideation.

  • I explored varied hardware, aesthetic, and installation experience on several variations in CAD.

  • The final prototype of the design. Made of transluscent PLA and spacer mesh fabric.

  • The tranluscent brace allows the brace color change or turn it invisible by taking off the padding.

What it does

Airy overcomes the typical brace's limitations of long-term fabrication, low patient compliance, and non-recyclability. Patients can adjust the brace to accommodate their bodies and future growth for three years thanks to Airy's repositionable feature.


Your inspiration

Scoliosis is a lateral curvature that occurs most often before puberty. During a talk with my professor, I heard about this issue. After doing some research, I discovered that the problem exists and that there is a significant potential to design for it. A scoliosis brace built by UNYQ and the architecture of the brace from the Light Cheneau brace inspired me about using a computational design technique and making the brace off the shelf. So I invented Airy after integrating the two inspirations and iterating on them.


How it works

The perforations on the brace and rails allow patients to set up the brace at home. Airy's web platform generates a unique installation guide that is delivered to the patient's house together with the product. To set up the brace, the patient simply follows the guide, and the process promotes compliance. When the patient outgrows the brace, he can alter it to be 4.2-inch longer so that it will fit him for at least 3 years. Second, utilizing Grasshopper's topology, the brae's structure is optimized, saving a large amount of materials while maintaining its strength. Each brace piece of the brace is translucent and has a soft padding. The user might replace the padding to modify the color of the brace or remove the padding to make it invisible. Last, I integrate a monitor onto the brace to track the patient's wearing time. The patient and the doctor can access the data to uncover compliance issues and communicate instantly about the treatment plan revisions.


Design process

I carried my design goal, which is to design an off-the-shelf scoliosis brace that the teenager is willing to wear for enough hours a day, to my ideation sketch. And I landed on 4 concepts that seems can be off-the-shelf and easily adjusted. Then I made rough prototypes to get a feeling of how wearing them feels like. I eventually landed on a concept that has the same architecture of the Light Cheneau brace, a scientifically validated brace, which is consisted of an aluminum back support and 4 side pieces, that allows the brace to be adjusted to fit all body types. However, I modified each side pieces to be symmetrical, so that people with left or right curvature can share the same brace and replaced the front closure with a 3-point connection made up of heavy-duty nylon cord instead of noisy Velcro strap. I then printed the 1 to1 prototype to address how easy it is to go about one's everyday routines while wearing my design. I carried the prototype to Cincinnati Children’s hospital to do a validation test with 4 teen patients. They have expressed a strong desire to buy Airy the next time they need a new one, since it is more pleasant to wear and does not restrict their breathing. I ultimately produced the final design and built the actual prototype based on their feedback.


How it is different

The most prevailing scoliosis braces currently including Boston brace (traditional rigid brace) and Light Cheneau brace (off-the-shelf rigid brace). Boston brace takes about 4 weeks to make and once the patient outgrows the brace every 2 years averagely, she/he must make a new one. It reduces the time to resist rapidly growing curvature. The Light Cheneau brace is monochromatic and like the Boston brace, is uncomfortable to wear. Airy, on the other hand, is readily made and can be adjusted to match the patient's body and future growth for at least three years. It also includes 5 patterns and 5 colors for patients to express their uniqueness. Patients may make it invisible since it's transluscent, something no existing product offers. After the treatment, the patient can donate the brace to third-world peers and being fitted again; or the brace can be recycled up to 10 times since no glue is used, while current braces may only end up in landfills.


Future plans

On April 4, I'll conduct the second validation test at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. In May, I plan to bring on an orthopedist and apply to an accelerator program like AngelPad or Y Combinator to gain more connections and raise money for product development. At the same time, apply for a provisional patent. My team is making connections with orthopedist clinics to partner with them to do experiments and acquire the data to prove its effectiveness.


Awards

First place at the Univerity of Cincinnati's Innovation Quest Elevator Pitch Competition 2022 The University of Cincinnati's Spark grants awardee 2022 DAAPWorks Director's Choice 2022 Second place at IDSA DAAPWorks 2022


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