Team Member Names: Joshua Snow, Kyle McDaniel, Megan Freeman
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ben Ward
QL+ Program Manager: Barb Springer
QL+ engineering students from Virginia Commonwealth University worked on the Waterproof Osseointegration Covers Challenge for an Army Veteran who lost both legs above the knee due to an improvised explosive device (IED). Due to the severe damage to his legs and the recovery process, he was unable to wear conventional prosthetics. As such, he underwent a trial study and became a recipient of osseointegration surgery. This procedure involves taking titanium rods and grafting them to the bone to facilitate the attachment of a prosthetic device.
A major problem with this surgery is that it leaves an opening where the connecting apparatus penetrates the skin, leaving a great risk of bone infection.
The Veteran Challenger wants a covering to protect this opening from bacterial infection during aquatic activity. For the project to be viable, it must fulfill certain design specifications, including waterproof and antimicrobial metrics, breathability, user comfort, durability, independent use, and weight limitations.
The team’s final product is waterproof sleeves made custom to fit the Challenger’s specifications. These sleeves were created mainly using silicone as a base to provide a sturdy platform that the Challenger could stand on. A layered fabric consisting of Cupron, Gore-Tex, and Rip-Stop Nylon comprised the actual sleeve section of the device. Custom fitted seals were also created to fit around the Challenger’s legs and provide a water tight seal ahead of the abutment. With this design the team sacrificed breathability in order to augment the device’s waterproof property, which the Team determined to be the most important factor in this project’s success.
Construction this device will be completed by another group of students in the upcoming weeks. The final project is comprised mainly of a layered fabric (Cupron, Gore-Tex, and Rip-Stop Nylon) and silicone. Custom silicone seals were designed to fit the dimensions of the Challenger’s legs similar to how a Drysuit seals and fits snuggly around a diver’s wrists and neck. Further improvements to this design are possible and highly encouraged. One major area where our design could be improved would be to come up with a way to better adhere the device to the body of the user. Due to the size of the sealing surface, the seals may not provide the best adhesion and the device may need an auxiliary attachment to the body to function as intended.