Developing rehabilitation technologies

Exploring the application of advanced product design and development ‎technologies in medicine, surgery, rehabilitation and assistive technology.

In collaboration with academic colleagues, practicing clinicians, patients, carers and manufacturers, our design research explores the application of medical 3D scanning, advanced CAD, 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing ‎in modelling patient anatomy, surgical planning, 3D printed fluidics and pharmaceuticals, as well as the design, development and manufacture of custom-fitting medical devices, assistive technology and rehabilitation products.

Interdisciplinary and increasingly transdisciplinary research on the rapid and efficient digital design and manufacture of custom-fitting orthoses, prostheses and assistive technologies will play an important role in the rehabilitation research at the NRC.

Loughborough University’s involvement in the NRC will provide us with a unique multidisciplinary environment where designers, engineers, prosthetists / orthotists, therapists and patients can work collaboratively and concurrently in the same location. Co-located working will enable increasing interdisciplinarity development of our researchers. The NRC will be especially important in the translational pathway as we take our research into clinical validation and eventual practice.

Professor Richard Bibb

Research in focus

Additive Manufacturing (AM)

AM - also known as 3D Printing - offers many potential benefits to the rapid and efficient design and manufacture of custom-fitting medical devices, such as improved patient outcomes and satisfaction and efficiency for healthcare providers.

However, to get the most out of the opportunities of AM, advanced Computer Aided Design (CAD) skills are often required, which take time and investment to learn effectively. Many existing CAD programs are tailored to disciplines such as engineering.

Our research, led by Dr Abby Paterson, focuses on the development and evaluation of a novel, bespoke, affordable CAD program that enables clinicians to easily and effectively digitally design custom-fitting orthoses, specifically wrist splints that can be produced at the point of care, on demand by 3D Printing.

  • Sinclair M, Pyatt C, Bibb R. (2019). Codesigning with patients to understand wrist splint compliance and elicit needs for a future splint design. Design for Health, 2019, 3(2); 240-260. DOI: 10.1080/24735132.2019.1685856
  • Cazon A, Paterson A, Bibb R, Campbell I, Kelly S. (2017). Analysis and comparison of wrist splint designs using the Finite Element Method: multi-material 3D printing compared to typical existing practice with thermoplastics. Proceedings of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Part H, Journal of Engineering in Medicine, 2017, 231:9, 881–897. DOI:  10.1177/0954411917718221
  • Paterson AM, Bibb RJ, Campbell RI, Bingham GA. Comparing additive manufacturing technologies for customised wrist splints. Rapid Prototyping Journal, 2015, 21:3, 230-243. DOI: 10.1108/RPJ-10-2013-0099
  • Paterson AM, Donnison E, Bibb RJ, Campbell RI. Computer Aided Design to support fabrication of wrist splints using 3D printing: A feasibility study. Hand Therapy, 2014, 19:4, 102-113. DOI: 10.1177/1758998314544802

Meet the experts

Professor Bibb's personal research focus is the application of advanced product design and development ‎technologies in medicine, surgery, rehabilitation and assistive technology. A Fellow of the Design Research Society, he is Professor of Medical Applications of Design, in the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University.

Dr Abby Paterson is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Aided Modelling and Manufacture. Her specific research interests relate to the translation of traditional design/fabrication workflows into virtual workflows, which enable novice users of CAD and CAM (e.g. 3D printing, Computer Numerical Control Milling, etc.) to adopt these digital technologies. Funded by Versus Arthritis, Dr Paterson and her team have developed specialised splinting software to enable hand therapists to design and make custom wrist splints using Additive Manufacturing.

Joe White, Postgraduate Researcher, combines his expertise in product design and Additive Manufacturing (AM) in research into the computer-aided design and development of custom-fitting medical devices. He worked alongside Dr Abby Paterson on the Versus Arthritis funded translational research grant to develop novel, parametric design software enabling therapists to create digital splint designs suitable for Additive Manufacture. Joe’s PhD is exploring the use of novel multi-axis and rotational Additive Manufacturing for prosthetics.

Professor Richard Bibb

Professor Richard Bibb

Professor of Medical Applications of Design

Dr Abby Paterson

Dr Abby Paterson

Senior Lecturer in Industrial Design and Technology

Joe White

Joe White

Postgraduate Researcher