Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) is a surgical procedure performed with the objectives of restoring normal alignment and providing stability to broken bone fragments after a fracture. This procedure is increasingly used to treat fractures of the distal end of the radius. Reduction of the fracture into correct alignment is often achieved by the surgeon pulling and manipulating the hand while looking at real-time x-rays, and frequently requires large forces to distract impacted fragments from proximal bone. This can make the task of simultaneously aligning the fracture fragments and placing hardware to secure fragments into the correct position particularly challenging for surgeons. This study presents the design and preliminary testing of a multi-degree-of-freedom (DOF) device capable of performing both distraction and reduction of fractured bone fragments using a traction splint mechanism with locking joints that results in significantly reduced effort and greater accuracy in performing ORIF procedures on distal radius fractures. Quantitative force testing found an 80% reduction in the maximum force required to create needed traction, while qualitative tests with a hand surgeon found the device’s ability to reduce and stabilize bone fragments while hardware is secured to be more intuitive and less obstructive than existing techniques.

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