3D Printing Creates Customized Solutions at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation

June 30, 2024

3D printed items on display in Good Shepherd Rehabilitation's Empower+ space at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Sometimes, it’s little things that make a big impact on a person’s daily routine.

Putting on shoes, for example, can be impossible for someone who cannot bend over or only has the use of one arm. To help patients overcome challenges with daily living, the Good Shepherd | Moravian University 3D Experience creates customized products that advance functional rehabilitation.

The 3D Experience team takes two-dimensional ideas and creates 3D products.

Things like a specially designed phone holder, writing aid, bottle opener or feeding cuff that can help restore some independence for people with arthritis, stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and more.

One of the lab’s most requested items is a 3D-printed shoe funnel, made of flexible material and thin rope, eliminating the need to bend over to put on shoes.

Making Items to Make Life Easier

The shoe funnel is just one example of more than 1,000 items created and printed at the 3D Experience since it became operational at Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital’s Empower+ space in September 2023.

“Of those items, 75 were designed completely from scratch in collaboration with the clinicians and patients,” said Good Shepherd 3D Printing Clinical Specialist Katelyn Amy, PT, DPT. “Our most common devices aid with daily living tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, bathing and dressing. We can add handles to almost any item. Plus, we create models for staff and patient education, such as a model showing the inner ear to help explain the treatment for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), a common cause of dizziness.”

The 3D Experience is the only service in the greater Lehigh Valley region offering product printing for its patients and long-term care residents.

Good Shepherd’s clinicians from around its eight-county footprint request products for active patients through a portal. The turnaround time can be less than four hours for simple devices ordered from an internal catalog. New items not found in the catalog take an average of 15 working days to complete, depending on the complexity and novelty of the design.

A New Role

Katelyn did not have great knowledge of 3D printing when she applied for the new position at Good Shepherd. A physical therapist and outpatient site manager at the time, Katelyn was looking for a new opportunity within the organization.

Katelyn says she zeroed in on technology in physical therapy and took an online course about 3D printing to see if it was a good match. Once she landed the job, the majority of Katelyn’s intensive education on 3D printing came from the faculty team at Moravian University.

“I really like the challenge of creating 3D products,” Katelyn said. “It is very satisfying making something completely from scratch that works for the patients.”

Good Shepherd Rehabilitation and Moravian University partnered on the 3D Experience to advance rehabilitation and explore and develop educational and research opportunities. The partnership is seeking new ways for clinicians to utilize technology to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

To learn more about how Good Shepherd’s 3D printing and Empower+ can help you, email [email protected] or call 484.307.6280.