Abstract: A team from three Australian organisations, Northcott Innovation, Northcott and AbilityMade, are currently developing a service model for delivering orthotic services to children who live in remote areas of New South Wales, Australia, a state spanning 809,000 km². The benefits of the application of three-dimensional (3D) technologies are current and realised in the Prosthetics and Orthotics (P&O) industry. One of the numerous benefits of using 3D technology in this industry is applying it in remote and regional areas with limited access to P&O services. The team aims to provide a solution for high quality lower limb orthoses and orthotic services for children with disability who live in remote and regional areas, therefore shaping Assistive Technology (AT) systems around the people who need to use AT products. People with physical disabilities, like cerebral palsy, often need to wear lower limb orthoses to aid mobility and pain management. Currently, it is estimated that globally, 17 million people have cerebral palsy (1). The projection at this stage is that only 1 in 10 people will receive the orthoses they need due to: high cost, reduced availability, limited trained personnel, and constraints within policy and financing (2). During 2017 - 2018, seven organisations took part in an Australian clinical trial to explore the clinical validity of applying 3D technology to the clinical assessment, fabrication and fitting of lower limb orthoses. This trial included the development of a purpose built instantaneous scanner, the use of 3D modelling software and the 3D printing of Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs) for Australian children with disability between the ages of 2 and 8 years. Outcomes of the clinical trial indicated that: i) 3D printed AFOs were biomechanically equivalent to traditionally fabricated AFOs; ii) the mechanical properties of Nylon 11 and Nylon 12 are sufficiently robust to act as a clinically viable alternative to Polypropylene plastic; and, iii) children and parents/carers participating in the trial found digital scanning to be significantly less distressing and anxiety-inducing compared to the traditional plaster-casting process. The team comprising of Northcott Innovation, Northcott and AbilityMade therefore has adequate evidence for the clinical application of the 3D technologies as explained above. It is believed that the application of this technology in regional and remote locations can bring high quality P&O services and products to people where they live. The team will provide literature evidence to support how the proof of concept and proposed service model complies with Australian Disability standards, the Australian National Disability Insurance Agency’s (NDIA) Remote and Regional Strategy as well as P&O practice and service standards. The team will further provide a proof of concept explaining the approach followed through the use of data from their service model. It is expected that the service model will provide P&O services to people who live in remote and regional locations. The solution will be people centred, holistic and provide high quality products and experiences for customers in their local environments, hence creating sustainable high-quality systems. There is a further expectation that this service model could hold potential for further/other AT products and services, evolving it fully to an AT system which is centred on the holistic needs of a person. This could mean that a person needing more than one type of AT would not need to consult with numerous clinicians at several different appointments as the current practice demands.
Goodchild, Chrisna, Frain, Samantha, Chhun, Vandeth, Fuller, Melissa, 2019, Using three dimensional technologies to make high quality assistive products and services available to people who live in remote and regional locations in Australia, Volume:Volume B - Day 2, Conference Proceedings, viewed 27 January 2021, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=16672.