External wrist fixators have been widely used to stabilize distal radial fractures. Ideally an external fixator would create a stable environment for the fracture to heal while allowing proper mobility for the wrist. However, this has been a great challenge to the designers.
The current study aimed to develop a bridging wrist external fixator that is easy for surgeons to create a stable environment for the fracture to heal while allowing proper wrist mobility for rehabilitative purposes. The kinematic geometry of the wrist-fixator system was described using loop equations defined by homogeneous transformation matrices (HTM) of the joints involved, and was evaluated numerically for a set of system parameters that are determined by surgeons during surgery. The results were validated with geometric models and computer simulation. The contributions of individual clinical parameters to the kinematic geometry of the wrist-fixator system were also analyzed using the Taguchi method.
Adequate pin placement and hinge alignment function were found to be critical for the postoperative bridged wrist motion. The results of the current study will be helpful for surgeons to perform fixation using the new wrist fixator and for designers to design new fixators in the future.