María Songel Sanchis - María Paula Rodríguez Garavito - Lucía Solinís Puertas - Arsenio Andrea Meomartino - Julia Robledo - Eva Vera García



Basic info

Hipcare improves babies' quality of life, reducing the impact of cast treatment, such as the number of general anaesthetics in each replacement of the plaster cast, the lack of hygiene and breathability, the effects on the skin and the difficulty with diapers.
According to the International Hip Dysplasia Institute, 1 in every 100 babies spend 3/4 months of their lives with more than 70% of their body immobilized due to the treatment of the plaster cast. Being aware of this situation and its consequences, we felt the need to bring a positive change. In addition, we detected 3D Printing as a technology with a growing interest in health care, especially in orthopedic surgery. Motivated by this, we wanted to achieve a solution as effective as a plaster cast, as well as a more visually friendly product aiming to provide a fair, easy and comfortable treatment for babies and their families.
Hipcare takes care of the baby, securing the correct immobilization during the post-surgery healing process while enabling proper hygienic conditions. A plaster cast is the only solution adopted nowadays, as the exact immobilization position is evaluated only during the surgery and requires immediate application. Hipcare innovates both the material and the technological process. Made of copper particles-mixed PLA, our product is 3D printed into a preconfigured splint, using the 3D model of the baby derived from the current radiography’s results. The product is then thermoformed at 55ºC during its application, exploiting the glass transition temperature of PLA, allowing the splint to perfectly fit the baby's body, without harm, and respecting the immobilization requirements. Furthermore, Hipcare comes with a unique strategy to promote better hygiene: adopting a lattice structure and copper particles, we achieve an antibacterial, breathable and washable splint.
During the design process, we aimed to improve the users' experience, putting them at the center. After studying all the technical aspects of hip dysplasia treatment, we collected feedback from families that experienced hip dysplasia. This way, we identified the issues faced by babies during the post-surgery period and started to develop and test possible solutions. High immobilization efficiency, controlled malleability, washability and breathability were detected as the main characteristics Hipcare must combine to offer an interesting alternative to the plaster cast. We started the formal design by analyzing a sample of a cast, trying to understand if a mechanical solution was applicable. This resulted in an over-complication of the product without the achievement of any tangible benefits. A considerable effort was then invested into the material analysis, looking for an option that was as rigid as the cast and yet presents the possibility to induce a controlled malleability to enable an easy and safe application. Also, we evaluated water contact as a non-renounceable characteristic. PLA resulted the optimal material that satisfied all the requirements. Then, to gain more breathability, we identified the opportunity to 3D print Hipcare and apply a lattice structure.
Unlike other products that treat hip dysplasia, such as the Pavlik harness or the Milgram Brown brace, which are less effective in the locking of the hips, Hipcare provides the patient a high level of comfort while maintaining the same efficiency as the plaster cast. Our design consists of two pre-configured shells that are clipped together and locked in position. Also, it counts on slots to facilitate diaper changing and reduces the cost of having to use a double diaper. As the main feature, the product presents a lattice structure that allows breathability as well as reduces its weight. Along with the structure, the lattice density varies according to the needs of each area. We reduced the density around the clips, while in the pelvis area it increases to facilitate the process of adaptation. Thanks to the simplicity of the process, the time required by surgeons to fit the splint is considerably reduced compared to the placement of the plaster cast.
Using Hipcare, we achieve a preconfigured splint design that is correctly adapted to the body and the correct hip treatment position of each baby. In addition, the patient's quality of life is improved thanks to its innovative design in both structure and material. One of the main goals for the future is to reach a single 3D printed solution that covers the entire duration of the treatment, overcoming the necessity to reprint the splint due to the growth of the baby. This optimization will extend the product life cycle, obtaining greater economic, social and environmental sustainability.


Salva Fàbregas
Mario Garcia (Hospital Clínic)
Xavi Riudor


Máster en diseño y desarrollo de producto