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Clubfoot is a musculoskeletal birth defect characterized by an inward twisting of an infant’s feet. Currently, a series of casts are used to correct clubfoot and the Steenbeek brace is used to maintain the correction. However, this method has issues with compliance, comfort, and social stigma. Mr. Jerald Cunningham, CPO, designed and is utilizing a unilateral clubfoot maintenance brace called the Cunningham Clubfoot Brace. He expects his brace to reduce treatment time, lessen social stigma, and increase child mobility. Hope Walks, in Kijabe, Kenya, is interested in implementing this new maintenance brace at their clinics. However, there is not enough published research on its biomechanics and patient success rates to confirm Mr. Cunningham’s findings.
The Cunningham Clubfoot Brace Collaboratory project seeks to validate the effectiveness of this design through biomedical testing and increase brace accessibility through sustainable manufacturing. The team is measuring the biomechanical forces applied by the brace with multiple force sensors on the Cunningham and Steenbeek braces. Mr. Cunningham plans to use injection molding to increase brace production. The team is completing Finite Element Analysis to determine how the brace’s properties change with injection molding. The team is also completing fatigue analysis with the Cunningham Brace to quantify its reusability. Furthermore, the clinical study in Kenya and Dr. Emily Farrar’s retrospective research paper will contribute to the published research on the Cunningham Brace. The collaborative efforts of the team will increase further understanding of the Cunningham Brace and its acceptance as an alternative clubfoot maintenance brace.
Messiah University, Messiah College, Engineer, community, service
Fouse, Brittney D.; Rasinske, Sam J.; Snodgrass, Stevie R.; Cornwell, Jacob R.; Lo, Michelle; Meekins Jr, Clint M.; Southall, Leigha R.; and Howell, Tim, "Force Characterization and Manufacturing of a Dynamic Unilateral Clubfoot Brace" (2022). 2022 Collaboratory/Engineering Symposium. 21.