A Beautiful Medical Device: This Biomimetic Neck Collar

Orthoses are medical devices that provide support to the patient’s body. This unusual orthosis was designed by Luke Hale, a doctor from the United Kingdom. Hale founded a company called Pi-A Health, which uses technology to help patients get better.

“I designed a new way to make orthoses from 3D scans that made them strong and porous, a bit like bone,” Hale writes. “We then applied the process to a patient with a neurological disorder who unfortunately couldn’t wear regular collars.”

Hale went through several iterations of the design:

“This collar is the result of digital manufacturing methods that combine 3D scanning, procedural design and 3D printing. Its form comes from an algorithm that mimics the structure of bone, creating a collar that is lightweight and strong. The process is faster and more responsive to patient feedback than traditional methods of hand-casting, sculpting and molding plastic.”

“In collaboration with the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Pi-A developed this collar for a patient with neurodegenerative disease, which is now worn daily. It has led to improvements in the patient’s posture and breathing where other devices have failed.”