Several material and technical expert industry leaders discussed thermoplastics used for O&P applications in the March 1020 O&P Business News ( http://www.oandpbiznews.com/201003/2.asp) .
While there is some need for O&P specific formulations (such as thinner and stronger) the economics of development makes it very difficult to attract suppliers because the O&P industry is so small. Plastic sheet goods have not been formulated specifically for O&P applications, and yet over the past couple decades O&P care providers have found a great deal of success using thermoplastics to fabricate devices and components.
Use of thermoplastics delivers many improvements, compared to traditional metal and leather systems, including:
- Design options for increasing contact and support to the limb
- Simple fabrication procedures
- Weight reduction with retained strength
- Cosmesis improvements with a variety of options to color or decorative heat transfers
Tamarack Habilitation Technologies, Inc. manufactures the world’s most widely used ankle joints. The Tamarack™ Flexure Joint family includes free motion joints and dorsi assist joints – all of which are interchangeable within each size range. This gives the orthotist many options when designing an AFO. These joints have very high tension load capacity – they do not stretch out or break, and are very simple to fabricate. The joints can be positioned to articulate the ankle joint in either line of progression or anatomical orientations. These joints are also useful for upper limb applications (elbow and wrist).
Tamarack also makes two other ankle joint models, specifically for thermoplastic fabrication;
- The TVA, which is a model in the TFJ family made in two sizes – Adult and pediatric – that allows the orthotist (or a therapist) to adjust the level of dorsi assist moment with a simple hex driver while the patient is wearing the orthosis.
- The Clevisphere joint, a stainless steel model that allows for rapid fabrication and the addition of being able to adjust and control plantar flexion (posterior stop). The joint is made using a unique clevis bearing that does not require the usual alignment procedures of overlap joints – each joint “co-aligns” to a common joint axis automatically. This makes fabrication very simple and joint operation very smooth and free.