Licensed prosthetists like those at LeTourneau Prosthetics in Beaumont, Texas, are celebrating new Computer Aided Design white light scanner technology. This technology allows them to make artificial limbs for patients within one day. In the past, it took three weeks. They are also celebrating that the new prosthetics fit much better than those made using traditional methods. Patients say that better fitting limbs make their lives much more comfortable. The only clinic using the new method in the Beaumont area is LeTourneau Prosthetics.
Options for the Prosthetic Industry
Licensed prosthetists Tom LeTourneau says that doctors have several options when creating prosthetics for people like Mark Phenice. Mark cut his foot off with a lawn mower. He has been using Tom’s service to have numerous artificial legs made for more than 20 years.
Mark says that the new service using Computer Aided Design white light scanner technology is wonderful. Mark continues that the new limb fits much more securely.
Tom explains that many prosthetists still use the hand-casting method. Workers create hand-casted by shaping the socket around the limb as the plaster hardens. This is a very intense process. Unless people travel great distances, workers make the prosthetic at remote labs. Successful prosthetics require a very skilled team.
Creating limbs also occur through using 3D scanners. Prosthetists use a camera sending out over 1,000 tiny lights. The light reflects back into a camera capturing very precise measurements. Technicians use the measurements to create the artificial limb. The prosthetic industry has drastically changed because of this technology. Each light operates separately.
Tom uses a white-light 3D scanner. Others in the prosthetic industry are researching using a blue-light 3D scanner. Some technicians find that ambient light causes false readings. Ambient light does not affect blue-light 3D scanners. Additionally, blue-light technology speeds up the process. Technologists use many points of light at one time. This eliminates motion blur.
3D scanners are portable. Technicians can use it anywhere in the world. This allows people in underserved areas to get prosthetic limbs even when they cannot travel.
People seeking help from the prosthetic industry find having a 3D scan much easier. Patients seeking limbs made with the hand-casting method often have to sit for hours while the limb is made. Alternatively, they have to wait for the limb’s delivery from a distant lab.
Technologists in the prosthetic industry can use the same scan to create more than one limb. For example, some choose to have limbs made for running and another artificial leg for walking.
Electronics allow the files to be shared easily. Paper files do not have to be sent through the mail. Even if the technician cannot make the limb, this speeds up the process. Using electronic files also allows changes in the stub’s shape to be more easily tracked over time.
Skilled prosthetic industry technicians will never be replaced. John Michael who holds a Master of Education in orthotics and prosthetics uses the example of people and word processors saying,”it is the skill and ability of the author that determines the ultimate quality of the manuscript. Optimal design for prosthetic and orthotic devices requires similar skill and knowledge.”
What is the Future of the Prosthetics Industry in Beaumont?
Researchers have now developed artificial limbs that can be controlled by thought.These limbs have many more moving parts allowing people who need them to do more things. For example, people can use one an artificial arm that has 26 movable parts. The future looks very bright for the prosthetic industry being able to restore people to things they never thought they could do after losing a limb.
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