David Ruppert, a Ph.D. candidate in the NCSU/UNC joint Bio Medical Engineering program, has recently had some of his outstanding work relating to the potential for customized prosthetic implants recognized nationally. To quote from a PR Newswire article published on March 8, 2016 titled “Improving the Lives of Amputees” :
“In the United States, there are hundreds of thousands of amputees caused by trauma alone, and this number is expected to steadily rise as the population continues to grow. Although socket-type prostheses are the most common, an optimal fit is difficult to achieve, often resulting in painful sores and other complications. Socket prosthetic devices also lack stability due to their inefficient integration with the body. This has led to an increased interest in improving the methods of attaching prosthetic devices to amputees.
One approach gaining popularity is the integration of a prosthetic implant directly with the amputees’ residual bone. This implant penetrates the skin to connect to a prosthetic limb. This direct prosthesis-bone interface allows for a more stable connection to the skeleton enabling greater control of the prosthesis and heightened sensory feedback of the environment while eliminating pain and sores experienced with socket prostheses. Although this type of prostheses offers promise, it is not without issues. “Unfortunately, these implants face several challenges which prevent their approval by the FDA outside of clinical trials,” explains David Ruppert, a researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hilland North Carolina State University. “The implants need to conform to patients’ specific anatomy; the skin penetration of the implant is susceptible to infection; and a 12 month rehabilitation period is required to produce a stable bone-implant interface.” Ruppert, along with his collaborators, are currently conducting research focused on addressing the patients’ specific anatomy as well as reducing the lengthy rehabilitation period. “Our findings showed that rough textured implants created though 3D printing exhibit stronger bone integration than machine threaded counterparts,” says Ruppert. “This highlights the superiority of using 3D printing to not only produce custom designs, but also custom surfaces that interface with amputees’ residual bones.”
There is much more in the article. David’s work was also recognized in 3D Print.Com where the article includes several photos that provide an excellent visualization of what this research is trying to accomplish.
We’re all proud of the work that David has done and continues to do. This is important stuff, being done by a serious young man and supported by world class faculty leaders.