February 29, 2024

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Chula Showcases Next-gen Prosthesis

Chulalongkorn University, by the Social Relations Group, Chula Communication Center (CCC) recently held the 4th CHULA the Impact online seminar entitled World-Class Innovative Prosthesis Made by Thais, which was broadcast live on social media. Chulalongkorn University showcased the innovative prosthetics and orthopaedic implants developed by Chula researchers.

The event was moderated by Prof. Dr Weerapong Prasongjean, Special Lecturer at Chulalongkorn General Education Center, with Presidential Assistant Asst. Prof. Dr Ake Pattaratanakun, giving the opening remarks. Speakers included distinguished professors from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Department of Metallurgical Engineering as well as the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine.

Key discussion topics focused on the importance of prosthetic and orthopaedic implants innovation from medical, social, and business opportunities aspects, and a follow-up on the progress of prosthesis innovation by Chula teams and their networks.

Photo: the Dynamic sPace prosthetic foot
Source: Chulalongkorn University, Press Release

Asst. Prof. Dr Pairat Tangpornprasert, a co-developer from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and the Center of Excellence for Prosthetic & Orthopedic Implant elaborated about the innovation — “dynamic sPace prosthetic foot”, the latest product developed by the department, which is currently under phase 2 of the clinical trial.

These dynamic sPace prosthetic feet have ankles, so they feel more natural than conventional wood-based counterparts. The innovation should help reduce imports from overseas. Product samples and a case study were presented.

The developers aim to produce premium dynamic feet to be sold by Chula Engineering Enterprise, the Faculty’s start-up. The products will also be used in the prosthetic feet project in honour of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn — a joint project between King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital and the National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT).

“Thailand has around 40,000 people with disabilities and 99% have poor-quality prosthetic feet. Imported premium prosthetic feet are expensive and difficult to access. Our centre focuses on the design and development of prosthetics and medical devices for the elderly and the disabled. This premium foot sPace model was developed to allow people with disabilities to walk and run naturally, with emphasis on strength. The ankle can rotate, move, and absorb energy. The innovation has passed clinical trials and meets ISO 10328 standard from Germany,” Asst. Prof. Dr Pairat explained.

Meanwhile, Asst. Prof. Dr Chedtha Puncreobutr, Department of Metallurgical Engineering, and co-founder of Meticuly Co., Ltd. presented samples of skulls, faces, jaws, and titanium bones produced with 3D printing technology with a focus on the production of strong artificial bone designed with high precision to meet specific needs of the patients.

Photo: Samples of skulls, faces, jaws, and titanium bones produced with 3D printing technology. Source: Chulalongkorn University, Press Release

This helps raise the bar of Thai medical innovation to be competitive in the international arena. Asst. Prof. Dr Chedtha revealed that more than 350 cases have already used Meticuly’s artificial bones with great results. The company is exploring more possibilities to use 3D printing in creating orthopaedic implants in the future.

“Today’s worldwide trend focuses on accessible, accurate, and personalized treatments because each person has different body types and needs.  Designs and materials also need to be very safe and meet international standards,” Asst. Prof. Dr Chedtha added.

Finally, Dr Chindanai Hongsprapas, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, Thai Red Cross Society discussed the problems and necessity of using orthopaedic implants in treating bone cancer patients. Currently, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital is using these innovative orthopaedic implants in treating their patients.

“Bone implants are very useful in treating bone cancer. Usually, the main treatment for these patients is surgery. The cancerous bones have to be surgically removed and replaced with implants which are generally large.  The most widely accepted material is a special metal prosthesis, which can give the patient immediate use of the arm or leg. But the material needs to be imported and is very expensive. The expense is also non-reimbursable, thus preventing the majority of patients from access to such treatment.

Therefore, it motivates the Department of Metallurgy Engineering to invent and develop innovative orthopaedic implants so that the public can easily access these good-quality replacements at a reasonable price.”

Dr Chindanai also said that today bone implants are not limited only to bone cancer patients. Various surgical doctors from various disciplines and institutes have used these innovations. For example, it can be used to treat bone fractures, ENT diseases, and plastic surgery patients who need facial bone implants. The Department of Orthopedic, Faculty of Medicine Chulalongkorn University has treated more than 10 patients with innovative implants with excellent outcomes.

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