3D printing a prosthetic limb
While 3D printing is not a brand new concept - hobbyists, architects, the aerospace industry, jewelry and apparel designers and others have been using it for a few years - not many people know about the potential it has for changing people's lives. But a group of enterprising high school students recently joint powers for 3D printing a prosthetic Limb for a two year old boy named Kaedon, a functional right hand. Kaedon was born with amniotic band syndrome, a rare disorder that restricts blood flow to certain parts of the fetus's body in the womb. In Kaedon's case, this led to the loss of his right hand.
3D Printing's Revolutionary Uses
This story revolutionizes the uses of 3D printing and suggests a lot of potential in 3D printing for disabled children like Kaedon. The medical field is not new to the concept. Doctors have been using 3D printers to design and print human tissue replacement parts, implants in dental and non-dental fields and other areas in recent years. 3D printing is on its way to revolutionise the manufacturing industry, helping to create printable machine parts, car parts, printable buildings and so on.
This is not the first time that 3D printing has been used for prosthetic limbs. A crippled duck was given a printed foot to let it walk again in 2013. A chihuahua born without its front legs was given a printed harness and wheels to let it get around. There also has been a precedent to Kaedon's case, when a five year old girl in the UK, born with fingers that weren't fully formed on her left hand, was given a printed prosthetic hand in October, 2014, designed by the US organization E-nable.
3D Printing for Disabled Children
3D printers are slowly becoming less expensive than the original models of the early years. The printer that was used to make Kaedon's hand is the Afinia H479. Its success has led the schoolchildren to work on building a myoelectric arm for a little girl in the community, in collaboration with students at the University of Central Florida. Since a printer with greater precision would be able to print better parts for the hand, and a prosthetic arm would need a larger printing area, the school started raising money and is awaiting their new Leapfrog XEED printer. While it may still take a few years for 3D printers to become a household appliance, the takeaway from Kaedon's story is that many disabled children may now have a choice in inexpensive prosthetics that may even be printed at home.
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