3D printed prosthetics for Ugandan schoolchildren

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150603-3d-printed-prosthetics-get-ugandan-amputees-back-on-their-feet.html

3D printed prosthetics get Ugandan schoolchildren back on their feet

Although we’ve heard numerous stories about how 3D printing has helped enable hundreds of those in need of prosthetic limbs, a majority of the cases have been located in the United States or the United Kingdom where 3D printers or 3D printing providers are becoming increasingly common and access to a 3D printer is getting easier than ever before.  While this is excellent news, there are still many world locations where affordable prosthetic devices – and even 3d printers in general – are needed and could be used perhaps even more than those located in more developed Western countries.

In the meantime – thankfully – various organizations and 3D printing providers have been picking up 3D printing jobs as needed to ensure that those who need the prosthetic devices the most are getting the proper care that they need.  More recently, the University of Toronto and charity Christian Blind Mission took it upon themselves to produce prostheses for a Ugandan schoolboy who had been in need of a prosthetic device for years.

The schoolboy, Jesse Ayebazibwe of Kisubi, Uganda, tragically had his right leg amputated after he was hit by a truck after walking home from school three years ago.  Since then, the nine-year-old has been maneuvering with the aid of crutches – however they have since made it difficult to play or move around.  “I liked playing like a normal kid before the accident,” he said.

Thanks to the support of a local orthopaedic technologist, Moses Kaweesa of the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services (CoRSU) in Uganda, Ayebazibwe was able to use an infrared scanner and some 3D modeling software to create a prosthetic solution for the young boy before shipping the files to Canada to be 3D printed.

“The process is quite short, that’s the beauty of the 3D printers,” said Kaweesa.  “Jesse was here yesterday, today he’s being fitted.”

While Ayebazibwe previously wore a traditional-style prosthesis last year, his new 3D printed prosthesis is among the first in a trial that could see more 3D printed prosthetic device across Uganda for others in need – thanks in no small part to the efforts of Kaweesa.

Currently, the entire country of Uganda has just 12 trained prosthetic technicians for over 250,000 children who have lost limbs, which are often due to fires or congenital diseases.  At $12,000, a portable solution consisting of a laptop, a 3d scanner and a 3d printer is not cheap – however when considering the impact that a portable prosthetic device system could have on over 200,000 children in need – in northern Uganda alone, many people have lost limbs due to decades of war where chopping off limbs was a common reality.

“There’s no support from the government for disabled people … we have a disability department and a minister for disabled people, but they don’t do anything,” said Kaweesa.  “You can travel with your laptop and scanner.”

Upon receiving his 3D printed prosthetic, Ayebazibwe was clearly ecstatic.  “(It) felt good, like my normal leg,” he said. “I can do anything now — run and play football.”

The boy’s 53-year old grandmother, Florence Akoth, looks after him, even carrying him the two kilometers to school after his leg was crushed and his life shattered. She too is thrilled.

“Now he’s liked at school, plays, does work, collects firewood and water,” said Akoth.

3ders.org

by Simon | Jun 3, 2015

http://www.3ders.org/articles/20150603-3d-printed-prosthetics-get-ugandan-amputees-back-on-their-feet.html

Advertisements

Help for the people without limbs

How can 3D printing help those with paralyzed limbs?

On this page we’ve shown you many different forms of prosthesis created thanks to 3D printing that has changed the lives of many people with missing limbs.

Now take a look at a project which, using 3D printing, can help people with paralysis gain control over their affected limbs again 🙂

We have seen many extremely helpful 3D printed prosthetic hands and arms come to fruition over the past two years. Thanks to groups like e-NABLE and the Robohand Project, there are hundreds of people who now have gained use of both of their hands. The incredible thing about 3D printing is that it allows for the fabrication of completely custom devices, at costs of under $50. Traditional prosthesis cost up to 10,000 times this price, and many of these expensive devices don’t even function as well as their cheaper, home-fabricated counterparts.

3D printed prosthetic hands have been a life saver for individuals (mainly children) who have been born with missing hands, or partial hands. These devices allow them to gain use of an appendage that they never had the ability to use before.  With this said, what about those individuals who have their entire arms and hands intact, but for one reason or another don’t have the ability to move them?

There are many medical issues that can cause paralysis of a limb and/or appendage. They range from muscular dystrophy, to arthritis, strokes, nerve damage, and in this particular case a child who was forced to have a hemispherectomy (removal of half of their brain). Devices to help aid these people are not all that common, and if one were to get their hands on such a device, it could cost upwards of $50,000.

Elizabeth Jackson Models the Airy Arm (image source: Brain Recovery Project)

This is where one young lady, named Elizabeth Jackson comes to the rescue, thanks in part to 3D printing technology. Jackson, a member of e-NABLE, and a student of e-NABLE’s “leader”, Jon Schull at RIT(Rochester Institute of Technology), decided that something needed to be created for those without functioning arms/hands. Building on previous work by fellow e-NABLErs Ivan Owen (University of Washington Bothell) and Jean Peck (Creighton University, Omaha), Jackson came up with what she calls the “Airy Arm”.

“The Airy Arm is an exoskeletal device that assists individuals with intact but non functioning hands,” Elizabeth Jackson tells 3DPrint.com. “For example, the child that this was designed for had half of his brain removed which resulted in the paralysis of his wrist and hand. No electric components are used, and the hand is instead driven by the user’s own controlled movement of the elbow.”

The device works with cables that run over and under the fingers and then attach to the elbow. The hinge, located on the elbow, pulls on the cables under the finger and then forces the hand to close, as the elbow bends. When the elbow is straightened, the inside of the elbow pulls the strings located on the back of the fingers, thus opening the hand. This means that when the user reaches for an object, the strings pull the fingers open, and when the user pulls that object back toward his/her body, the fingers are forced to close. A double hinge on the elbow allows the user to have free movement without any interference or irritation of the skin. The underside of the fingers are strung with elastic, which enables the user to hold objects of different sizes, quite comfortably and confidently.

“The frame of the Airy Arm is 3D printed flat from a plastic called PLA (polylactic acid), and is then dipped in hot water and molded to the user’s hand and arm in order to form a comfortable fit that is flexible and lightweight,” Jackson told us. “Printing the pieces flat also decreases the print time and the amount of material used. This device would be useful in a variety of situations, including partial paralysis, stroke victims, and individuals with arthritis or muscular dystrophy.”

Recently at a large e-NABLE event, Jackson had the opportunity to show this device off to the innovators, medical personnel, and fellow e-NABLE members on hand. “People were very excited about the concept,” explained Jackson. “It is revolutionary, and can help so many more people than I ever anticipated. It has been getting very little media attention, as it is still a prototype, but somehow people still heard about it and were excited to actually see it in person.”

There is so much potential for devices like this. Just imagine how many people would love to have such an apparatus enabling them to once again gain use of both hands. Jackson will be working for the Brain Recovery Project, starting in January, in an attempt to create a final design for this device, and get it working for several patients who they work with. The Brain Recovery Project works with children who have experienced severe epilepsy, and were required to have half of their brain either removed or disabled. These children become paralyzed on the opposite side of the body that their brain was removed from, and devices like what Jackson has come up with can help them regain function once again.

airy2

If you are interested in donating to the Brain Recovery Project, you can do so on their website.

If all goes as planned, then perhaps one day soon, anyone will be able to print their own Airy Arm for personal use, or for use by family and friends.  This is why 3D printing is such a great tool.  It allows for open source designs that are able to be fabricated via downloadable files.

What do you think? Will this device provide as much of an aid to users as some of the 3D printed prosthetic hands we have seen? Discuss in the Airy Arm forum thread on 3DPB.com.

3DPRINT.COM
by  | OCTOBER 9, 2014