Rehabilitation Engineering

The engineering facilities within ORLAU (staff and machinery) permit in-depth analysis of individual patient problems so that specialist equipment can be designed and built in-house.  We are regularly asked to produce goods for other departments within the hospital and often provide input to consultants and registrars with projects where some form of engineering assistance is required.

We have a successful track record of winning government sponsored development funding which has enabled the rehabilitation engineering section of ORLAU to develop a number of orthotic devices over the years.

The Rehabilitation Engineering (RE) service offers a variety of 'off the shelf' and bespoke solutions to a particular patients' mobility need. 

Assessment Type

  • Contracture Management
  • Locomotor Guidance System
  • Transportable Video Vector Analysis
  • Paediatric Community Rehab Service

Conditions Treated

  • Contractures
  • Walking Impairments
  • Mobility Issues
  • Custom Orthotic Development

Systems Prescribed

  • Contracture Correction Devices
  • Parawalkers
  • Swivel Walkers
  • Standing Frames
  • Locomotor Guidance Systems
  • Various Wheeled Walkers
  • Functional Electrical Stimulation
  • Custom Orthoses

Engineering Workshop

The ORLAU workshop situated within the TORCH building at the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital is fully equipped with a range of engineering machinery that enables all manner of orthotic/mechanical construction.  Manned by two experienced engineering technicians, the workshop serves five main functions:-

  • Patient Appliance Servicing/Repair
  • Patient Appliance Manufacture & Assembly
  • Prototype Development Manufacture
  • Servicing & Support for ORLAU technical installations
  • Engineering Design & Manufacture Service (for the RJAH)

A range of machinery has been bought over the years that, as well as smaller items, include the following:-

  • Bridgport Vertical Milling Machine
  • Raglan Centre Lathe
  • Startrite Bandsaw
  • Edwards Guillotine
  • Tig Welding Apparatus
  • Meddings Vertical Drill
  • Compressed Air Supply

The workshop has become a valuable component in terms of how we see and treat patients, the on site facilities enable patients to have their equipment serviced quickly while they wait which means they don’t have to send devices away for servicing which often leads to a delay.

Mechanical Testing Facilties

Materials and Structures Testing                                                                                          
We regularly use two electro-mechanical, universal test machines to examine the physical properties of engineering materials and orthotic structures.  The machines are capable of testing a specimen in tension, compression and flexion which has given us the capacity to safely develop & prove our orthotic devices.   The combined ability of the machines has helped us build up a comprehensive knowledge of how devices can fail and what steps we can take to make them better.  These two machines are now a vital part of our research & development as we continually look to make small but significant design changes in our products performance.

Testometric Micro 500                                                                     
The smaller of the 2 machines with a loading capacity of 10,000N (approx 1 ton), the Micro 500 machine is mainly used to perform simple tension & compression tests where a quick force measurement is required on an adjustable gas spring used on a patient’s Contracture Correction Device or Locomotor Guidance System. 

Testometric AX M500                                                                     
Larger than the Micro 500 with a loading capacity of 25,000N (approx 2½ tons) and unlike the Micro 500, we can connect the AX M500 to a computer to collect the test data for further analysis.  The test results can be processed using the proprietary winTest Analysis & winTest Reports software to produce test reports, or the data can be exported to Microsoft Access or Excel in order to produce graphs and charts as required for publication.   This machine allows us to embark on programmes of prolonged cyclic testing to evaluate and investigate when and how an orthotic structure is likely to break.  Over the past 5 years, we have completed in excess of 4 million loading cycles on a range of different prototype devices.
The cyclic capabilities of the Testometric AX M500 allow us to use it as more than a materials test machine.  We have used it as a means to actuate a prototype data logger by toggling a switch on and off in a pre-determined pattern, this allowed us to check the validity of the data that was being recorded by the logger.

winTest Analysis v1.38c                                                                                            
WinTest Analysis is the software sold with the AX M500 machine to capture the test data.  It also serves as a set of controls so the machine can be controlled remotely from a computer as an alternative to at the machines control panel.

winTest Reports v3.13xp                                                                                            
WinTest Reports is software used to print out a report of the tests that have been performed.  Data in both table and graph form can be printed as well as exported into Microsoft Access or Excel.