Student designs efficient, 3-D printed wrist orthosis

NEW ORLEANS — Debra Diepenbrack, senior mechanical engineering student at Oklahoma Christian University, presented a 3-D printed wrist-driven orthosis here at the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium.


Debra Diepenbrack


The device, created with the help of researchers at the University of Washington’s Ability & Innovation Lab, offers expanded thumb range of motion, improved open and close function and increased aperture during wrist flexion and extension.

It costs about $9.50 to build, takes 6 hours to 7 hours print and can be assembled in less than an hour.

Diepenbrack said during the design phase, she found that 3-D printing allowed affordability, enhanced aesthetics, individualized customization and ease of fabrication.

She plans to further develop the device, and will perform user-oriented tests to evaluate its function in individuals with spinal cord injuries. She is also working to develop an adjustable initial hand position, an active design with electromyography driven actuation and a ring and cable system. Diepenbrack will also test material properties and anneal 3-D printed parts to improve overall strength.

“Our goal was to make this device functional, comfortable and customizable by using 3-D printing,” Diepenbrack said. “Now that we have accomplished that, we have the potential to improve the function of traditional wrist driven orthoses…and improve the lives people with impaired hand function.” – by Shawn M. Carter


Diepenbrack D. Paper F29. Presented at: American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium; Feb. 18-21, 2015; New Orleans.

Disclosure: Diepenbrack reports no relevant financial disclosures.


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