Second Skin Knee Brace
Creator: Shu Tong Pan
Supervisor: Peter Yeadon
The Second Skin Knee Brace project was developed with the goal of helping patients suffering from recurrent knee dislocations to achieve stabilization of their joints and support throughout their rehabilitative processes.
Shape memory polymers are strategically used as an essential material in the brace, to take advantage of the smart material's potential in aligning bones in a targeted manner, eliminating the need for conventional rigid braces.
Research was conducted by speaking to those who have experienced such dislocations, and the common problems found with current knee bracing products were identified. These included lack of breathability, uncomfortable and rigid materials that restrict movement, and the inability to perform rehabilitative exercises. The Second Skin Knee Brace was designed to address these issues.
The device features porous openings that are tailored to fit specific regions of the knee. Additional smart materials that are embedded along the edges of these openings provide support and correction, locally, right at the affected ligaments and muscles. The material reacts to body heat, contracting to form around the user's knee. A second activation temperature is reached when the patient applies a hot compress (>45C) to the affected area, further stabilizing the joint during sleep.
The porous mesh pattern helps to promote air circulation, keeping the skin comfortable, even during hot weather and light activities. As the device is made from only two materials, it is lightweight and does not contain unnecessary metal clasps or closures.
By using shape memory polymers, the brace can provide comfort and aid in the patient's recovery. Further research involving patient input is needed to assess the feasibility of the concept.