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Broken Bones: New Ways of Healing

Cutting-edge Computer Technology Used To Create Custom Fit Braces For Better Healing

By Michael Lasalandra
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Correspondent

Cutting-edge computer technology is allowing Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to have braces designed for patients with spinal and lower limb injuries that are custom fit to the individual's body.

"Our company is the first in the area to use Rodin 4D laser scanning technology to change the way we measure and fit orthotic braces for all kinds of injuries," says Michael Azarian, a certified orthotist who along with Jesse Anderson staff the National Orthotics and Prosthetics Company (NOPCO) onsite clinic located in the Outpatient Orthopedics Clinic at BIDMC.

"These are proven and safe laser scanners that result in more accurate measurement of the affected body parts and faster service with more convenience to the patient," he says. "Prior to this technology, we were required to cast the patient or use measurement tapes to obtain the needed information. Now, we get an accurate electronic image to send to our fabrication facility and a more intimate fit that helps the injury heal better."

The plastic braces are fabricated and delivered back to BIDMC usually within 24 hours by NOPCO's parent Company, Boston Brace International, which makes thermoplastic spinal braces and orthotic bracing products for prevention, rehabilitation and correction of a variety of injuries.

"We pass the hand held laser scanner over the spine or lower extremities, and it collects a 3-D image of the body. From that, we can modify the scan on our computer to ensure the brace that will be made from the image produces the desired effect on the body part," Azarian explains.

The scanner is portable so it can be used in the emergency department, the patient's room, the operating room or a doctor's office.

Casts and braces are used in the treatment of injuries such as broken and fractured bones. They keep muscles, bones and tendons from moving and creating further injury. There are several different types of casts and braces, made from different types of materials such as plastic and foam.

Most fractures are able to be placed in conventional casts or prefabricated braces. Braces are generally more convenient as they can be taken off for hygiene and then put right back on again.

Casting is handled by BIDMC orthopedic technicians located in the same area of the hospital.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult y our doctor.

Posted March 2011

Contact Information

Carl J. Shapiro Department of Orthopaedics
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215