Michigan State University’s Biomechanical Design Research Lab, Composite Materials and Structures Center, and the MSU-Fraunhofer Center for Coatings and Diamond Technologies worked together to fabricate a brace from carbon fiber and epoxy components for an injured MSU basketball player, allowing him back in the game just a few days after fracturing his hand.

When Michigan State University’s Nick Ward fractured his left hand in February, the basketball team’s athletic trainer reached out to MSU’s College of Engineering for help. “This was an outstanding opportunity for MSU engineering faculty and students to work together with MSU athletics to make a difference,” said Tamara Reid Bush, a professor and part of the Biomechanical Design Research Lab. “I’ve shared this story with all of my classes and students. The excitement it generates in the classroom is amazing; students can relate to the issue and see the engineering solution.”

The process began when the Biomechanical Design Research Lab scanned Mr. Ward’s hand and created a 3D model. The lab also collected force data to gauge the stress caused by dribbling, passing, and shooting.

The model was passed to the Composite Materials and Structures Center and the MSU-Fraunhofer Center for Coatings and Diamond Technologies who worked together to fabricate a brace from carbon fiber and epoxy components. The team carefully computed the stresses the device could withstand.

The brace was ready just four days before the Big 10 tournament. After a few adjustments, Mr. Ward was able to practice in the brace for two days before putting it to use in the Big 10 tournament, where he played successfully with the brace.

Of course, there are many other instances where composites were used as a key material in building braces and apparatus for people and animals with a wide variety of injuries and needs. In past blog posts, Composites Manufacturing Magazine has featured several intriguing stories that showcase how composite usage has improved the lives of athletes, animals, and even car companies by allowing them to live and work in a better capacity. Some of which can be viewed below.

3-D Printed Amphibious Fin Helps Veteran Amputee Swim Again

Panthers Linebacker Wears 3-D Printed Composite Brace in the Super Bowl

Composites Aid First Olympic Amputee Track Athlete

Improving Pets’ Lives by Leaps and Bounds

Composite Exoskeleton Helps People with Paraplegia Walk

Carbon Fiber Chairless Chair Eases Assembly Activities at Audi