Category Archives: Technology

West Texas A&M Students Help Design New Prosthetic

Young, energetic students at West Texas A&M are making great steps forward in both their chosen field of engineering and in helping their fellow Texans.  A group of four students spent a full semester working on a prosthetic hand designed for patients with Symbrachydactyly (a common hand and foot disorder).

The Idea

TSRHC collaborated with West Texas A&M engineering professor, Dr. Emily Hunt, with the idea of designing a new prosthetic hand.  Guided by Dr. Dwight Putnam of Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the students took up the project eagerly and were aided through this special project by Dr. Hunt and her 10-year-old daughter Aly who has Symbrachydactyly.

The Design

TSRHC Pediatric Orthopedics

The base design came from a prosthetist from South Africa who posted the design online for any who wished to download for free.  From there, the students worked the design carefully, using common tools including bungee cords, fishing line, and a 3-D printer.  Aly tested drafts of the design and gave the students feedback, helping them understand the needs and preferences of the patients who will actually use the prosthetic.

The design functions through simple muscle movement.  When Aly bends her wrist, the fingers close, when she straightens it, the fingers open.  Aly said it is easy to use and finds it very helpful.  What is even more impressive is that the hand can be produced for a mere $15!

The Human Element

The West Texas A&M students who worked on the project said it was a truly unique and inspiring project.  Engineering students rarely get to work on something that has such a significant impact on actual people with specific needs.

Working with the hospital, Dr. Hunt, and Aly, added a human element that increased the value and importance of their work.  Receiving instant patient feedback and suggestions helped them identify problems, improve the design, and ultimately become more successful engineers.  It was an experience they aren’t likely to forget and their work is sure to bless the lives of thousands of patients to come.

Photo Credit: Sean Steffen – Amarillo Globe News

TSRHC Releases Groundbreaking Bone Deformity Correction Device TL-HEX

Do you remember the stories of how computers used to fill up an entire room?  Then, by the mid-1990s, almost every private citizen and business owned a personal computer.  Towards the end of the 1990s, everyone had an internet connection.  By the mid-2000s, every college student owned a laptop.  Now, in 2013, tablet PCs, which possess exponentially more power than computers of old and are just a fraction of the size, are commonplace across the globe.

This story illustrates a basic point:  advances in technology seem slow, but over time, their changes accumulate, creating a big difference in the world.

Similar changes happen in the realm of medical technology.  At Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, our medical doctors and biomechanics professionals have been working vigorously to develop a more effective method for correcting bone deformities.  And, at long last, we’ve made another breakthrough, making bone deformities, malformations, fractures and lengthening easier to treat than ever before.

The Current Leading Bone Deformity Correction Device:  TRUE/LOK

In 1993, TSRHC developed the TRUE/LOK® External Fixation System, a four-strut system used to correct bone deformities and lengthen limbs.  For the past 20 years, it’s been the simplest, most stable, and highly versatile system for correcting a number of bone fractures, nonunions, malunions, and other deformities.

By offering a system of pre-assembled hinges, angular distractors, and other easy-to-manipulate components, the TRUE-LOK® External Fixation System has set the standard for correcting bone deformities in hospitals around the world.

The TL-HEX Brings More Stability and Flexibility

TL-HEX However, as with many things, a good thing often leads to an even better thing. Although TRUE/LOK continues to help kids around the world, a new beginning provided by the TL-HEX offers a much more flexible and stable solution.

David Ross, director of TSRHC Bioengineering and Biomechanics, Mikhail Samchukov, M.D.* and co-director of the TSRHC Center for Excellence in Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction, and Alex Cherkashin, M.D.**, a division director at the center, collaborated to create a device even more effective than the TRUE/LOK.

TL-HEX  fittingAlthough the TL-HEX visually appears quite similar to the TRUE/LOK, it uses six struts, a lightweight aluminum frame, and sophisticated software technology to correct bone deformities.

“Using six struts allows us the capability to lengthen, to rotate and to compress the bone – all at once,” said Samchukov.

Through a system of circular and semi-circular supports, the TL-HEX affixes a patient’s bones by wires and half pins, which are connected by the six struts.  This allows both rapid and gradual ring position, enabling the practicing physician to reposition bone segments with incredible precision and control.

The TL-HEX also maintains full compatibility with the TRUE/LOK system.

A Large Differentiator Between TRUE/LOK and TL-HEX:  Software

One of the greatest differences between the TRUE/LOK and TL-HEX is the software support that comes along with the TL-HEX.  This software shows physicians how to make the following types of precision adjustments:

  • Distraction
  • Angulation
  • Translation
  • Rotation

The device has already been launched internationally, with South Africa playing host to the first surgery taking advantage of the TL-HEX.  Throughout the next year, the device will be launched in several additional international markets.

*Medical degree from Khabarovsk State Medical School, Russia.
**Medical degree from Novosibirsk State Medical School, Russia.