In an effort to improve the way that soldiers who suffer severe facial injuries are treated, a team at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is looking to introduce 3D scanning and imaging to cranial and facial prosthetics that will help create implants that better restore a person’s original appearance, according to Popular Mechanics.
Physicians currently use a type of scan called cone beam computer tomography (CBCT) that captures 3D images of skulls and jaws. A scanner is used to circle a patient’s head and capture hundreds of images, which are processed into models and schematics of the patient. While these models are able to produce implants for wounded warriors, the process isn’t perfect, according to Capt. Gerald Grant, director of craniofacial imaging research for Naval Postgraduate Dental School, who is heading the effort at Walter Reed.
Grant explains in the article that posttraumatic scans enable physicians to see what someone looks like after they’ve been injured. If someone has an injury on the left side of their face, they are able to mirror the right side and overlay it and rebuild, but if someone has a mid-facial fracture, you can’t use that technique, he says. By taking facial scans of the troops prior to active duty, however, physicians would have full-face scans of their original appearance.
Grant and his team are currently evaluating software that could take the 3D visualization capabilities even further. The idea, according to the article, involves holographic images that would appear in front of the user’s face that physicians could use to examine and manipulate. One vendor currently under consideration is zSpace, which is an integrated hardware and software platform that transforms PCS into virtual holographic computing systems and platforms.
zSpace provided Popular Mechanics will a live demonstration of their system that showcased its capabilities. Read about the demo here.
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