Mechanical design and onsite additive manufacturing provided by clinical rehabilitation engineers at the US Dept of Veterans Affairs provides a new level of personalized assistive devices to Veterans. Rehabilitation engineers use technical skills and in-depth knowledge of assistive devices to complement the diverse group of therapists on a rehabilitation team. This is typically seen in the evaluation for and prescription of assistive devices during co-treatment with rehabilitation therapists in areas such as wheelchairs, computer access, communication devices, smart home control, memory aids, adaptive sports and adaptive driving. Due to its federally funded social healthcare model, the VA is able to provide a very broad range of assistive devices. This includes the ability to provide custom solutions when commercial product options are lacking. In addition to onsite additive manufacturing, other VA hospitals, military hospitals and additive manufacturing service bureaus have been utilized to access a wide range of materials. Case studies will illustrate how the use of additive manufacturing can improve a Veteran’s functional activities of daily living and reduce device abandonment. By collaboratively designing end-use solutions with Veterans and their therapists, rehabilitation engineers are able to find the right combination of assistive technology for a Veteran.
- Demonstrate knowledge of how a clinical rehabilitation engineer adds value to therapy services.
- List 3 examples of end-use assistive devices created with additive manufacturing.
- Identify 2 justifications for using additive manufacturing within a rehabilitation clinic setting.