Irish children with scoliosis could be spared surgery with the help of a new 3D brace from the US.
The bespoke device, created with a 3D printer, can be provided to children with scoliosis within just two weeks.
And with nearly 200 Irish children waiting in pain for surgery, the UNYQ device could be a game changer.
Currently available in five US cities, including San Francisco and New York, the UNYQ brace, or spinal wear, is designed to help children manage the curvature of their spines, in the hope of preventing the need for surgery.
UNYQ is hoping to find a clinical partner in Ireland, so the company can bring the life-changing device here.
In cities where the device is currently available, children with a curvature of the spine between 25 – 40 degree curves are referred to UNYQ by their doctor, according to Lisa Tweardy, vice president of
An anatomical, or 3D,
The team then designs the spinal wear for the patient and customises it to the child’s preferences, anatomy and age.
That then goes to the printer and gets assembled and sent back to the clinic to be fitted. The whole process takes about two weeks.
The device costs approximately €2,500-€3,500 and in the US is generally covered by health insurance providers.
Eythor Bender, CEO of UNYQ, said new technologies – such as those available for teenagers looking for braces for their teeth – now offer opportunities to children with scoliosis.
“We have now, finally, technology available, such as the 3D printers and other design tools that makes it possible to make these spinal wears so much better and so much more personalised and easier to wear,” Mr Bender told the Irish Mirror.
But he says discussions in Ireland about surgical waiting lists for children don’t seem to include much mention of these new technologies and devices.
And Mr Bender says that with waiting lists as long as they are in Ireland, he feels compelled to tell people here about the device.
“We would just like to make sure that people in Ireland are aware of this device,” he said.
“I feel I’m obligated to talk about it – I can no longer sit on the sidelines and listen to the discussion going on without at least making people aware of this.”
According to the HSE, there are currently 163 children waiting for scoliosis-related surgeries. This includes 107 who are waiting for surgery at Crumlin Hospital, 41 more at Temple Street and an additional 15 at Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital in Finglas.
Some of these children have waited more than a year for surgery, despite a commitment by Health Minister Simon Harris in 2017 that children would not wait more than four months.
Once an Irish partner is found, the wearable device could be available to irish children within less than three months.
“This is something we can set up in Ireland within the next two to three months,” he said. “We are ready.”
Response from both children and clinicians in the US have responded positively to the UNYQ spinal wear.
“We’ve got great feedback from the clinicians because they feel they can help control the treatment better than sending the patient out to get a device and not really seeing how that’s being built or how it’s working,” said
“The patients really like the product because it’s much more low-profile, it’s breathable, they can choose their patterns. It’s a traumatic experience, especially for children, to have to wear an
“So we’re trying to remove that stigma for them and make it a much more pleasant experience for them, as well as optimise the clinical efficacy.”
Gary Farrell, spokesman for Scoliosis Ireland, indicated that parents in the group would respond positively to such a device in Ireland.
Scoliosis Ireland is currently in talks with the Government about providing information to parents in schools about scoliosis, so that early signs of the disease can be detected.
Irish Mirror : Please find a link to the original article here