In pediatric arthritis, children often develop a joint contracture and range of motion is lost. Often, these contractures lead to severe immobility or an abnormal walking pattern with negative effects on the spine and other lower extremity joints. A joint contracture brace was developed to work with heat heating and adjustable range of motion mechanisms to gradually improve the range of motion of the affected knee.
After five brace reiterations a brace was designed that uses thermal therapy to lower inflammation combined with dynamic extension to improve the range of motion.
The design utilizes a thigh and calf cuff which are made of molded plastic. The plastic is custom fit to a model of a person’s leg. The brace has a two aluminum joints made on each side and a posterior adjustable aluminum stay which can be modified to gently increase range of motion in the contracted joint. There is a soft moleskin fabric with electrodes that can be plugged in to combine heat therapy with the stretching component.
There are currently no know contractures braces that incorporate heat therapy and gentle stretching to improve range of motion. When stiff joints are not properly treated in children with arthritis, they have decreased participation in normal activities, pain and long term orthopedic problems.
What inspired you (or your team)?
When my brother was ten he was diagnosed with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself. His arthritis, his story, and his strength are what made me feel more than obligated to give back to the arthritis community.
My brother and I would participate in Arthritis Foundation camps and activities, meeting a lot of kids with juvenile arthritis. The kids we met were often younger than us, wheelchair bound, or had an inconsistency in the way they walked. Seeing children restricted from mobile freedom broke my heart and I knew I had to do all I could to give them a chance to know what life is like pain-free.