Using 3D body scanning to design clothes that offer patients a better life

Evaluation of body geometry and symmetry for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with 3D body scanning system. Research Journal of Textile and Apparel. Highly Commended Award. 

In a fashionably designed faculty office, I presented the 2018 Emerald Literati Award to Associate Professor Kit-lun Yick and Assistant professor Y. W. Yip from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Institute of Textiles & Clothing.

Associate Professor Kit-lun Yick (right) and Assistant professor Y. W.Yip (left)

The winning paper ‘Evaluation of body geometry and symmetry for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis with 3D body scanning system’ was conducted by experts from different fields. By using 3D body scanning system, they measured the changes in the torso geometry and profile symmetry of 5 patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis for 6 months.

The results show that 3D scanning tracks and evaluates changes of body shape and lowers the risk of X-ray exposure. As a result, with this safer means to track the disease, the pilot research has been chosen as the Highly Commended Paper in 2018 by the journal Research Journal of Textile and Apparel.

Idiopathic scoliosis cannot be cured but evaluating changes of body shape frequently and intervening with the orthotic brace can play a crucial part in adolescents, because they grow fast before their condition stabilises at the age of 18.

However, this winning paper is only part of the main project, the story behind the research dates back to 2011.  

2011 was the year when Yick found out her friend’s daughter suffered from this disease. The little girl had to wear (or suffer) the orthotic brace in hot and humid weather and tried hard to avoid people’s eye contact. Watching her suffer was when Yick decided to start the research. They were determined to find better ways to evaluate the disease and to improve the material of the brace.

The little girl has now turned 18, her condition has been stabilised, but the project did not end here.

“We want to utilize textiles to replace the hard orthotic brace in the future,” said Yip. In order to control the disease so it doesn’t rapidly worsen during adolescence, proper intervention is necessary. ‘But we do know that kids aren’t willing to wear the hard brace in summer, it presses against their skin and causes pain. But what if we try some comfortable material instead? It won’t look so much like medical wear, it would be similar to comfortable underwear but with function.’ To achieve this, the team continuously tested the brace, improved it and re design it, in the hope that one day it will reduce the pain suffered by the patients.

In the very beginning, it was difficult to find volunteers to participate in the research. Yick and Yip even had to ask their friend’s daughter to help. But now, more and more people including doctors/physicians have noticed their research and are willing to participate.

“In the past, we were considered as people who make clothes, but the doctors realized that our research is interesting and practical, because the change of material does make the patients feel more comfortable. Gradually they are willing to work with us. So we have doctors, nurses, physicists…we have experts in textile, engineering and math, all interdisciplinarily working together, just like this article, every expert plays a role.”

The next focus will be the idiopathic scoliosis on elderly people, which is more challenging since the condition of spinal deformation might be more irreversible. But the team will make it because you can tell from their glistening eyes when they explain all the equipment they have created in the lab, that their final goal is to help all patients live a better daily life.

Read the full article here

Article Details

Kit-lun Yick & Y.W.Yip

Date Published:

November 28th, 2018

Would you like to contribute to our Real Impact blog? Find out how.

Recent News & Blogs

- Discover impact news from across the globe


Professor Alex De Ruyter - Policy, Science/Sociology

Since becoming Director of the Centre for Brexit Studies at Birmingham City University in 2017, the UK’s first ever research centre devoted to the study of all things Brexit, I have found it challenging to keep my academic hat of “objective aloofness” on. After all, Brexit strikes to the heart of the future trajectory of

Read Article

How can knowledge and practice work in partnership to create a healthier society?

Michael Chang - Health

On this World Health Day, I would like to highlight and celebrate those professionals working at the interface of environment and public health to make health their everyday business. More than ever, in research and in practice, we are recognising and having a better understanding of the fact that our health and wellbeing is influenced

Read Article

2019 – The focus for Impact

Dr Julie Bayley

In this blog, Julie reflects on her impact resolutions for 2018 – and considers what 2019 may bring. What are you main thoughts on your #taketheleap pledges from 2018? In 2018 I pledged to #taketheleap by committing to support professional development of the impact community. It has been a genuine concern of mine for some

Read Article

We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our website.
You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in .

Emerald Publishing Logo

Privacy Overview

This website uses cookies so that we can provide you with the best user experience possible. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful.

You can adjust all of your cookie settings by navigating the tabs below.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

Strictly Necessary Cookies should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings and ensure that the website works correctly, for example logging into the website.

If you disable these cookies, we will not be able to save your preferences and you may not be able to log in to the website. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.

3rd Party Cookies

This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.

Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.

Privacy and information

You can find further information about our privacy and cookie policy in our Privacy and information section

To enjoy the full experience of our website please .