Digital measurement technology Special usefor customized orthotics
To take precise patient measurements, Sanitätshaus und Orthopädie Technik Hölker GmbH in Bielefeld, Germany, relies on the digital support of the Bodytronic 600. The measurement system not only delivers a precise three-dimensional image of the legs up to the waist, it also enables a scan of the upper body. This allows the 3D image of the body to be used not only for the selection and production of compression stockings and orthoses, but also for the manufacture of customized corsets.
Please place your feet on the highlighted areas, straighten your upper body and hold on to the frame,” expert orthotist Thomas Hölker instructs his patient. While the Bodytronic 600 platform begins to turn slowly and evenly, the system projects light beams onto the torso and digitally records its measurements. Thomas Hölker can see a precise 3D image of the upper body on the screen in front of him. The patient can now come down from the platform and get dressed, because this is all that is needed for the measurement to manufacture a customized corset. “Previously, we used to take plaster cast impressions, but for the past 18 months, we have been able to simply do the measurements digitally,” Thomas Hölker explains.
Well-equipped for the future
His company, Sanitätshaus Hölker GmbH, was founded 30 years ago and is currently located in two branches in Bielefeld, Germany. With his 25 employees, he also provides patients in hospitals with medical supplies as well as orthopedic and rehabilitation aids. The company focuses on orthopedic technology for the torso, leg prosthetics and the fitting of orthoses for all extremities. “The future of our industry is digitalization. Only those who realize this and equip themselves accordingly can be successful in the future,” says Thomas Hölker with confidence. The managing director has been active as the Grand Master of the Guild for Orthopedic Technology for the Detmold region since 2009 and as Chairman of the Consortium for Orthopedic Technology in North Rhine Westphalia since 2019, working in various boards. He has been relying on digital measurements in his company for a while and is currently testing the use of 3D printing. He understands the necessity to innovate, a strategy that is now paying off: word has got round that measurements are taken with the use of a computer. And more and more patients phone up to specifically ask for this service. “That really demonstrates how it allows you to position yourself with potential customers,” Thomas Hölker says.
Various applications for Bodytronic
When recording body measurements, Thomas Hölker uses different digital methods, such as a hand scanner, and he added the Bauerfeind Bodytronic 600 to his equipment three years ago. “The system provides excellent data for supplying compression stockings or supports for the lower extremities, allowing direct ordering of the products from the Bauerfeind online shop, for example,” Thomas Hölker says and mentions another aspect that is essential to him: “18 months ago, we discovered another area of application: customized orthotics.” The starting point was the treatment of a patient with a corset. Based on his advanced age and a degenerated spine, he was only able to stand upright for a short time. A plaster cast impression was out of the question, and categorizing a patient as “can no longer receive care” is unacceptable to Thomas Hölker. Measuring the patient with the Bodytronic 600 was the answer. This method was manageable for the patient, and sufficient 3D data for a model of his upper body was generated to produce a corset with flawless quality. Since then, the medical supply retailer has relied on the digital measurement of the upper body, for older patients in particular. Thomas Hölker points at the screen next to him, showing the 3D model generated just now, and says: “Standing up briefly and turning is not a problem for the patient when they can hold on to the frame. We can then prepare and process the data of the current state as it appears here the screen and export it to a milling unit for modelling. And one thing is certain: accurate measurements are the foundation for high-quality work and a perfect final product.” At the same time, we create a set of data and store it in our in-house quality assurance system.
There is another obvious and highly relevant advantage of working with Bodytronic 600: contact-free measurement is beneficial for everyone involved – not only in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is much more pleasant for patients and employees not having to go through the application of damp plaster bandages on an at least partly naked upper body. Thomas Hölker: “Previously, we used to work in the plaster cast room, but now we’re modeling the template for the positive cast on the computer.”
Expertise meets digital technology
All employees at the Sanitätshaus Hölker medical supply retailer who are in direct contact with patients and who have the relevant specialist training know how to use the Bodytronic 600. “In my opinion, people can get certified by completing training and reach a certain level. But I believe that only staff who have actually learned the trade properly should take measurements and carry out the modeling process of medical aids,” Thomas Hölker says with certainty. According to him, it is essential to be able to assess the generated data, rather than merely using the system. That is why the Grand Master of the Guild demands the following: “We need well-trained professional staff in all areas of orthopedic technology to ensure we can guarantee the required high level of quality of our medical products.” He therefore feels strongly about his employees having regular training in the use of the Bodytronic. The Bauerfeind field sales team supports him in this mission. “This cooperation works really well. I can also say that about the technical support team, who is always quick and happy to help in case there are problems during day-to-day tasks,” the company owner reports.
High level of compliance from patients and employees
Thomas Hölker is very satisfied with the options provided by the Bodytronic 600. His customers are giving positive feedback as well. The contact-free measurement process, rapid recording of data and the knowledge of being treated with state-of-the-art technology give patients a feeling of confidence in Hölker, with the result that his measurement system has become a frequently used tool. “It may not be the cheapest option, but it offers many benefits. I would certainly recommend the Bodytronic 600 to all those who want to make significant progress toward increased digitalization.”
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Images: Steffi Behrmann
When manufacturing customized corsets, Sanitätshaus Hölker, a medical supply retailer based in Bielefeld, Germany, relies on Bodytronic 600 to measure the upper body.
- Contact-free, precise measurements offer advantages for both the patient and the orthotist. They ensure physical distance, enabling compliance with current distancing regulations.
- The measurement process and duration are particularly suitable for older patients.
- The digital 3D image of the upper body can be used not only for exporting data to create models but also for documentation.