Editor's Note - July 2021

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By Andrea Spridgen

With the exception of a few off-the-shelf braces, the effectiveness of orthotic and prosthetic devices relies on being customized for each patient's body. As such, their precise fabrication is an essential element in O&P. And though many techniques introduced in the 1970s and 80s are still being used in labs today, recent advances in technology are offering new materials and safer, cleaner ways to fabricate the devices patients rely on.

3D printing methods and materials continue to evolve and improve, however, the technology has not yet come into its own on equal footing with traditional O&P fabrication methods. In "3D Printing: Making It Work," we learn from those in the field how it is being successfully integrated in some practices and manufacturing efforts and what may be hindering adoption for others.

Historically the materials and processes involved in O&P fabrication and component production have not been environmentally friendly. But efforts are growing to change that by reducing waste, using safer, more sustainable materials, and recycling. "In Pursuit of Greener O&P" explores how one facility is using hemp fiber to produce sockets with a renewable resource that helps reduce environmental hazards in the workplace from toxic dust, a manufacturer is committing to being carbon neutral, and another producer is working to eliminate waste and increase recycling.

Patient compliance in upper-limb prosthetics is a well-known challenge but personalizing the appearance of their devices can offer incentive for patients. "Making a Statement: Customization Trends in Upper-limb Prosthetics" discusses materials and fabrication techniques that can help patients show their personalities through their prostheses, from a silicone dinosaur hand for a child to a starry night themed arm with fiber-optic lights built in.

While O&P care is much more than just devices, the efforts of talented technicians fabricating those devices is nonetheless critical to patients' success. I hope you enjoy this issue focused on fabrication.

Happy reading.