LUNA Modular AFO

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  • 2022

Designed By:

  • Aaron Nguyen
  • Darren Tan - Biomechanical Engineering
  • Jarrod Cahir - Orthotist
  • Dr Giuliano De Antonis - Osteopath
  • Emma Luke - Honours Supervisor

Commissioned By:

Aaron Nguyen

Designed In:

Australia

The LUNA Modular AFO is a new approach to Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) design, targeted at young and growing children with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP). AFOs aid individuals’ ability to walk but do not accommodate growing children, causing severe injuries. LUNA’s new modular design adapts and conforms to the child.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia is a degenerative condition that progressively deteriorates the individual’s ability to control their lower limbs. Individuals with this condition use plastic braces called Ankle Foot Orthosis to assist their walking gait. The rigid thermoplastic forms used to create the AFOs are intentionally tight-fitting to provide optimal support. However, used on growing users; especially children; it often causes severe bruising, blistering and cuts. The problem also stems from systematic flaws in the fabrication process, which heavily rely on the skills and experience of the orthotist/fabricators. The project seeks to design a holistic solution that modularly grows the user.

  • The project began with an in-depth investigation into Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), collaborating with industry professionals - Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Child Orthotists and Biomechanical Engineers. Additionally, conducting autopsies and analyses of AFO designs. Revealing an opportunity for AFOs to use better technology, fabrication processes and design techniques like computerised generative design to create a superior solution. Through an iterative process of ideation sketches, physical prototyping, CAD modelling and further prototyping, the project developed a new modular AFO system. The solution considers all aspects of the design, from the orthotists to the end-user, providing a holistic design approach to the design solution.

  • The LUNA Modular AFO is a complete redesign and reimagining of AFO systems from the first clinical fitment to long-term usage and the end-of-life process. The design consists of a mass-manufactured component called “The LUNA Module” and a user-customised 3D-printed component called “The LUNA Surface”. In combination, these two components simplify the fabrication process reducing cost and time. But mainly enables modularity without compromising on comfort or performance. The modular system allows the device to grow with the user, adapt to their condition and be repaired when damaged. Extending the life on the AFO from 6-8 months to 2-3 years.

  • The hallmark feature of the LUNA Modular AFO is the modular system that allows the device to grow with the user, adapt to their condition and be repaired if damaged. Additionally, the innovative features were discovered through the design process and working with the industry professionals. Features like the first aid keyhole allow first responders to care for the user without taking off the AFO and possibly worsening the injury or the use of semi-flexible plastics to soften sensitive areas to reduce AFO related injuries. The ground-breaking innovation is the Shapechange Feature, which is part of the design that physically morphs and visually indicates when the AFO is too small. Currently, it is very difficult to judge when the AFO is too small because children with HSP have limited sensation in their lower limbs, leaving it to the orthotist’s judgment. Currently, must resort to stop-gap solutions like smearing lipstick on the child’s leg to create an impression on the AFO. The Shapechange Feature empowers the user and their parental guardians to understand the AFO’s fitment and pre-emptively upgrade the AFO rather than regular checks with the orthotists or when the child starts getting AFO related injuries.