Technology has provided us with new
opportunities to solve old problems. Designs of the past had
to rely on the materials available at the time. In a sense,
the materials dictated the designs. As new materials were
introduced, the old designs persisted. Materials alone do
not improve function in an orthosis; however, these new
materials provide the basis for new and different designs.
Conventional thinking must be replaced with innovation in
order to create a more functional orthosis. There cannot be
progress without change.
The materials used to make an orthosis must satisfy the requirements of the design and the intended outcome. Carbon composites offer the unique qualities of the rigid support needed for triplanar control and flexibility for dynamic function. Composites may include materials other than carbon that can enhance function. Carbon alone is very rigid. Strength must be combined with flexibility to improve function.
Composites allow the designer to combine materials in one device to create superior performance characteristics. Only research and development will determine the optimal blend of materials. It is important that the attempt be made. There will be no future if we remain in the past. Materials science will ultimately affect the design of an orthosis.