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news item News Thursday, April 26, 2018 Thursday, April 26, 2018 12:44 PM - Thursday, April 26, 2018 12:44 PM

CAD CAM carver increases design and production efficiency of orthotic and prosthetic devices

Speeds time of delivery for patients

Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) – Northwest, LLC  located within the Portland Shriners Hospital, produces all of the prosthetic and orthotic devices for patients seen at the hospital. Additionally, they produce all of the devices for two other hospitals – the Spokane Shriners Hospital and the St. Louis Shriners Hospital. This spring, the Chicago Shriners Hospital will also be added to the list. In order to keep up with the demand, the Portland POPS team purchased a CAD CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) machine in 2015.

Traditionally, a prosthetic or orthotic device is created by casting the area that is being treated, and then filling the cast with plaster to get an exact replica of the treatment area. Once it dries, technicians build the device and get the perfect fit against the plaster mold. This can be a lengthy process, especially when creating a device for a patient at another hospital where casts can accidentally be crushed in the mail.

The CAD CAM is cutting-edge technology that dramatically decreases the time spent creating each device, which allows the POPS team to produce a higher volume of devices more efficiently. Instead of requiring a cast as a starting point, CAD CAM technicians enter digital scans of the patient into the machine. From there, the CAD CAM uses a 3-axis carving system to whittle down foam pieces into exact replicas of the scan, which takes just about 30 minutes. Orthotics and prosthetics technicians are then able to build the orthotic or prosthetic device directly from the foam mold. The CAD CAM is a unique piece of equipment that very few hospitals have access to due to the cost of the machine.

Derek Tall joined the Portland Shriners Hospital team in 2014 in order to implement the usage of the CAD CAM machine, after being in the industry since 1991. “At the end of the day, I’m a craftsman and I want to make things beautiful and more efficient,” said Derek. “I’m here to teach new technicians and share my experience with them – it feeds my soul.”

Derek shared the impact that the CAD CAM machine has made on patients’ lives, “A few times, the Spokane or St. Louis Shriners Hospitals have had a patient who had surgery and needed an orthotic or prosthetic device. Right after surgery, the patient was casted, the technician digitally scanned the cast and sent it to us, we used the CAD CAM machine to create the foam mold which allowed us to build the device and get it in the mail the very same day so the patient received the device the next day. It’s really amazing.”

Derke uses the CAD CAM to produce a prosthetic device at the Portland Shriners Hospital