Arthrogryposis is a term for the development of non-progressive contractures affecting one or more areas of the body. A contracture is a condition in which a joint becomes permanently fixed in a bent (flexed) or straightened (extended) position, completely or partially restricting the movement of the affected joint. When congenital contractures occur only in one body area, it is not referred to as arthrogryposis, but rather an isolated congenital contracture. The most common form of an isolated congenital contracture is clubfoot. When arthrogryposis affects two or more different areas of the body, it is called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC).
Arthrogryposis is usually developed before a baby is born. Six common causes of this condition are: abnormalities of connective tissue, restricted movement of the uterus, maternal illness, abnormalities of the nerves that connect to muscles, abnormalities of muscle function, and the loss of neurons. Each of these factors occur while the mother is still pregnant, then symptoms of the condition will appear after birth.
The symptoms of AMC vary depending on the patient, severity, and location of the condition. The joints of the legs and arms are usually affected, but the legs are affected more often. It can also occur in the joints of the elbows, shoulders, knees, wrist, ankles, toes, fingers, and hips. In addition, the jaws and back are also often affected in patients with AMC. More than 300 different conditions can cause isolated or multiple contractures and the causes, genetics, specific symptoms, and severity of these disorders vary dramatically.
The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton, also known as WREX, is a device made of resistance bands and hinged bars. It is also described as an anti-gravity upper limb orthotics. It was constructed to help children with little residual strength from muscular and joint disorders to move their arms in space. The problem was that it was only available for patients under six years old. Now, researchers are using 3D printing to allow even younger patients to use it. The use of a 3D printer allows doctors to customize the WREX to each patient.