In this interview with MEDICA-tradefair.com, Andrei Vakulenko talks about the use of 3D scanners in orthopedic technology, and how they change the way prosthesis and orthosis are created.
Mr. Vakulenko, what significance does 3D scanning have in orthopedic technology today?
Andrei Vakulenko: I think we need to consider two aspects of the work in orthopedic technology. One is that the offices of orthopedic technicians traditionally look a lot like workshops where manual labor is done. The technicians use plaster to create molds of body parts and they use tools to create their products. Young specialists do not want to work in this environment that does not look like high-tech and medicine very much.
The other part is the important opportunity a digital workflow provides. We see some kind of consolidation of smaller companies towards bigger networks. Technicians do not produce every prosthesis themselves. They rather take measurements and send these to a manufacturer. This is a kind of industrialization. Of course, it is much easier to send a 3D scan than a plaster mold, and to store it as well.
How does this change the industry?
Vakulenko: We see diversification. In one branch, orthopedic technology is using more and more standard products which are only slightly adjusted to the wearer.
The other branch is individualization. If wearers do not want a product from the shelf, they expect their prosthesis or orthosis to be designed specially for them and to cover their special needs. For example, one of our clients made an orthosis to use during fishing for a customer who partly lost the ability to move his hand.
We also observe this individualization with younger people and teenagers. In the past, they often tried to hide orthosis or prosthesis. Now orthopedic companies offer modern, stylish products that wearers want to show. From a psychological point of view, this is very important to make the wearers feel more comfortable with their orthosis or prosthesis.
To make these individual designs and devices, the technicians need to use special software. They cannot do this with hard materials like plaster. And if they want to do this, they need to digitize their customer's body using a 3D scanner to create a product that fits.