Smart Brace

Creator: Silas Gibbins     
Supervisor: Peter Yeadon

This prototype introduces a new intervention for those suffering from scoliosis, a condition that affects 2-3% of Americans. It’s enabled by Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs), which allow for a hybrid approach between static bracing and surgery, offering patients enhanced features and customisation.
The main apparatus of the Smart Brace works by strapping artificial ribs around the patient’s chest and using contraction, when heat is generated in the SMAs, as counter-tension to straighten the spinal column. 
Heat is a critical component in this device. In the works-like demonstration model, shown below, heat is generated by running an electric current through the resistant SMA wires, causing them to contract. 
Experimental studies have also shown that heat applied to musculature regions, in combination with stretching, can help reform posture overtime. By placing heat packs in the central nodes of each rib, positive growth can also be simulated to rehabilitate the stabilization over time.

Overall, the potential for smart devices in back bracing reduces the likelihood to need surgery, overcomes the fixed nature and inflexibility of traditional braces, all in a slim and user-friendly design that is nearly invisible with an over-shirt.
With an improved medical device and less pronounced intervention, user confidence would increase and the stigma around back braces in adolescents would decrease.
The position of the brace is maintained by a fixed core that anchors the ribs, which adjust and correct the user’s posture throughout the day. To reset the device after it has been taken off, a secondary wall-mounted device would be used to restretch the SMAs to a bent position and recharge the batteries.

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