Background and Problem Statement
In post-surgery, a patient’s full recovery relies on re-strengthening and recuperation of internal body segments to regain mobility. For re-strengthening, recovery via physical therapy is the most utilized medium of rehabilitation. Although the method has been perfected scientifically in most aspects, by the combination of medical knowledge in human anatomy and physiology, a common problem arises in a situation where a patient is subjected to a leg or knee surgery. The individual is commonly given a hinged-knee brace that is not customized to their fit causing the brace to slip down vertically. This is seen mostly during periods of high physical activity, such as a workout session with a physical therapist. The slip of the knee brace may lead to further injury if the user is not constantly bothered to readjust and lift the device from the effects of impulse and gravity pulling the brace down. Brace Yourself, by Team 19, proposes an innovative apparatus designed to be used in conjunction with hinged-knee braces called the, Knee Brace Project.
Product Design Requirements and Specifications
The intended use for the product from the Knee Brace Project is to design an additive device for currently existing designs of standard hinged-knee braces supplied by doctors in the United States. By involving SLS 3D printing technologies and skilled engineers, the intended user for the product from the Knee Brace Project is an individual recuperating from an athletic injury with a smile on their face and saving more money than other competitor’s high-end solutions. The total cost of the product is expected to range under $300, remaining compatible with other products on the market for modularity and fitting to most design scales. The ultimate goal is stabilizing vertical forces and to provide support against movement of the brace where the intended use environment for the product from the Knee Brace Project is primarily focused towards high activity scenarios. A variation in physical conditions of the surroundings due to temperature and chemical reactions with any particular materials involved are considered in the product design specifications of the concept design.
Proof of Concept
The product our team is developing belongs to the medical industry. There are currently many types of braces available from many different companies. Companies such as, BREG and DJO Global are at the top of the market when it comes to braces. They create braces not only for knees, but for ankles, backs, wrists, shoulders, and more. These companies also provide services to go along with their braces. As a team, we have created a close relationship with a physical therapist to find out the effectiveness of our product. After meeting with the physical therapists and reviews of the complaints of many knee brace users, we have readied ourselves in knowing the problems that the products face. Knee braces are sold to individuals and the cost is typically covered by the insurance companies associated with the individual. Store bought braces are not custom, rather a quick and easy fix to a problem that may not be beneficial long term. Our product blueprint is expected to be sold to medical companies which will incorporate the product into their own product line to build upon their customer satisfaction.
The Knee Brace Project by Brace Yourself created an additive concept design based on knee brace systems using a compressive pump wrap attachment device. The Team’s concept design is for a patient with a knee injury; the concept design aims to increase surface area and pressure between the brace straps and the patient’s leg. The product is primarily focused on being produced in the United States of America, however further expansion of the product to other regions of the world is a future option (due to the device being within the medical field). The purpose of the concept design is to solve a problem with the brace sliding out of place due to size differences from swelling and high physical activity by the user. The pump up tubing is made out of a material (to be determined) that has high traction and grips onto the skin to ensure a non-slip fit for the device. The pump wrap attachment safely disperses the pressure exerted by the compression and avoids constricting circulation to the user. The Knee Brace Project concept design is a useful attachment to knee brace systems for the real world because the product opens the market for enhancing lower quality braces by a relatively cheap addition.
Team Brace Yourself has designed a product to be used for reinforcing knee braces. The knee brace often does not fit properly and tends to slip out of place. The problem occurs because low- and mid-tier knee braces do not account for the natural swelling caused by the user interacting with the product. The concern of swelling from the user may lead to a further assortment of injuries on the knee or prolong the recovery time. The product intends to reinforce the knee region by filling the unavoidable gap between the leg and brace. The attachment is meant to be placed above and below the knee while resting underneath the brace support bars. The composite layering of the attachment is the key to the user’s comfort and optimal support against slipping. The outer layer of the attachment is constructed of rubber neoprene, purposed to prevent most the of slip from occurring assuming contact is made with the skin consistently. The bladder, found between the upper and lower layers, will be made of butyl rubber or latex to offer reasonable durability and cost by being a common material for air sacs. The material thickness is aimed at being thin because the attachment will need to fit comfortably under the brace and not disrupt the design of the brace. Attached to the bladder will be a two-way valve, the orange part in the design assembly, that can be inflated using a handheld pump. The valve will resemble the mechanics of a bike valve to offer simplicity to the user. As a result, when pressure is applied air will be released from the bladder. The attachment aims to financially offer users a better alternative than buying a high-end custom brace (costing an arm and a leg) that fits perfectly to their knee.
Final Design Assembly
Testing and Results
Meet the Team
I am Adan Amador and currently a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno. I am originally from Sacramento, California born and raised, but was intrigued by the UNR engineering program. The most challenging engineering project within this program would have to be the freshman hovercraft. This hovercraft project took countless hours of team collaboration and testing in order to ensure the best possible outcome for each checkpoint. These checkpoints made up most of our grade so it was important to make sure the hovercraft was able to accomplish each task required. Outside of school and work, the project I am most proud of involves helping a transitional housing for homeless by the name of Serna Village. For this establishment, I created three food storage units to store all of the canned and non-perishable food that was accumulated through donations. There was months of research and communication with outside sources in order to attain approval for the project. I also had to produce schematics for the size of the cabinets and how they would function. This was a useful experience and has helped me with my current capstone engineering project.
My goals currently are to obtain the best grades possible and get involved more within the engineering community. However, after graduation, I would like to pursue a master of business administration (MBA). I have always been interested in business and being my own boss. Also, it seems to be a field of work where the ceiling for income and success depends on how much you are willing to work. These are my goals currently and for the future and hope that I am able to live up to them.
My name is Victor Garcia. Currently a senior and was born and raised here in the Reno/Sparks area. The most challenging engineering project for me would be capstone. The scale and complexity of project far outweighs any other project I have done. Many aspects of the project must be taken into consideration, including non-engineering aspects such as business. The two key takeaways from my academic career would be a heightened sense of how physical phenomenon works and a logical breakdown of a problem and construction of a solution.
My goals at the moment are to graduate and pass the FE as well as score well in the GRE. My goal after graduation is to earn an MBA. From there, I plan to work that satisfies me whether that be in the engineering field or not.
I am Connor Kovan, a currently standing senior attending the University of Nevada, Reno, from Las Vegas, Nevada. Ignorance is bliss. Throughout my personal journey the most challenging engineering project I have been involved in happened my first semester, the hovercraft project. A daunting task of brainstorming, conceptualizing, designing, and crafting a final product as freshman student assigned with a random team of three others. All and all, the key to success that brought our team to place first for fastest hovercraft in the class was cooperative teamwork and resolving conflicts in our differences to get along.
Academic Career Developments in Improving Engineering Skills
I say to myself, “Indecision is the greatest thief of opportunity,” therefore developing and improving on the engineering skills learned in my academic career outside of school for personal gain is something I value. The greatest developments in my engineering skills is the expanse of mechanical knowledge about the world around us and my abilities to better communicate with others on a professional degree. Further development from improved communication is communication with myself involving problem solving skills. Problem solving is everything in the world that which we live, whether on a large scale as a career path or small; such as, I was fascinated by the Rubik’s Cube so I taught myself multiple methods for solving the puzzle. Holding onto a fascination in what I love to do, engineering problem solving, is important for continuously improving my academic career development.
Present Goals and Future Goals after Graduation
Learning never stops throughout a lifetime, only we stop ourselves from learning; I have a continuous goal to always be self-improving myself in both present day and my future goals. Currently, I am on track to graduate with a bachelors in mechanical engineering (BSME) and to also complete a renewable energy minor. The after graduation goal is to either continue my connection with an internship or seek a career that may better suit my engineering skills.
I am Cesar Marin, a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno. I am from Las Vegas and moved to Reno to continue my education. The most challenging and rewarding project I have been involved in was a project for my ME 151 class. In this class, teams of four received a LEGO Mindstorms Kit and had to build vehicles as well as create the programs for the vehicles to compete in competitions. Each competition was different, which meant that the vehicles and programs had to be different as well. From this project, I learned how to adapt quickly to the requirements given. During my academic career, I have developed a solid understanding in various engineering software’s and programs. I chose to further my education because of my involvement with 3D printers outside of school. I was often using a 3D printer and creating models to print for friends and family. Whenever anyone around me needed something I would create it on Solidworks and 3D print it for them. I have a solid understanding of 3D printing technologies, software’s, and products.
As of now, my goal is to gain as much knowledge as I can about engineering as a whole and further expand my engineering skills. After graduating with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno, I plan on finding a job or internship in the field of mechanical engineering.