Prosthetics: the cost of comfort

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Technology is advancing rapidly to improve the functionality of prosthetic arms but comfort still remains an issue. The functional benefit of an artificial arm is often not enough to overcome its cost, the discomfort, and the effort required to use it. The standard method of producing and modifying a prosthesis to create a comfortable fit requires subjective evaluation, trial-and-error, significant expertise and multiple fitting sessions. If the relationships between a user’s discomfort and the physical parameters associated with pain at the user-device interface can be determined, they could be objectively fed into the socket design. A process of scanning the limb to develop a digital model, modifying the socket design based on the pain variables, and 3D printing the socket has potential to improve the comfort and reduce the time and cost associated with production and fitting.

About Laura Diment:
Laura is in the first year of her doctorate in Engineering Science at the University of Oxford. Previously, Laura worked for 2 years as a biomedical engineer for the Medical Device Partnering Program in South Australia, where she designed, prototyped and tested novel medical and assistive devices. She has also lectured and tutored at the School of Computer Science Engineering and Mathematics at Flinders University. In a volunteer role with Motivation Australia, Laura has worked as a biomedical engineer in Papua New Guinea to train technicians in wheelchair assembly and fitting, and with Engineers Without Borders to develop partnerships between South Australian Engineering companies and local Aboriginal communities. Laura is also an artist, actively involved in the Brasenose College arts community. Her virtual art program, Splashboard, has gained international recognition for its benefits for people with disabilities.

Laura Diment, 2015 Australian Universities John Monash Scholar
DPhil Candidate, Department of Science
University of Oxford

About The Change Agenda:
The inaugural John Monash Scholars’ Symposium, The Change Agenda: Leadership and Direction for Australia’s Future, was held in Oxford on 1 April 2016. The UK and Europe based John Monash Scholars used short bite size presentations to inform a conversation on global trends, and provoke discussion about appropriate responses to them. Each area of discussion, Drivers of Change, Our Human Response, Harnessing Technology, and Leading the Region,  included 5-6 presentations, was chaired by an eminent Australian and took questions from the floor.