Most parents would do anything and everything to give their child the most normal life possible — even if it means putting their biggest hope in a relatively new technology like a 3D printer.
Emma Lavelle was born with a non-progressive condition called rthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which hinders her from moving her arms to do simple tasks like feeding herself or hugging her mom. But Megan Lavelle, Emma’s mother, never stopped searching for any kind of help that would enable her daughter to live a more manageable life. So when Megan learned about the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), an assistive device made of hinged metal bars and resistance bands, she knew it was going to be just what Emma needed.
Emma’s doctors collaborated with Stratasys engineers to design a smaller version of the exoskeleton for the child. Using a Stratasys 3D printer, Whitney Sample, a researcher designer from Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, was able to 3D print a prototype WREX to attach to a little plastic vest.
The 3D-printed exoskeleton turned out to be extremely useful for Emma. She regularly wears it at home, at preschool, and during occupational therapy. And the best part is; she can now play with her toys, eat on her own, and hug her mom.
“We’re printing layer by layer a three-dimensional part,” Zehringer, a Stratasys engineer, told 5 Eyewitness News. “We can start putting these in the field now. Emma was the perfect test case. She’s smaller and needed something custom.”
According to a news release, fifteen children are now using custom 3D-printed WREX devices.
The “magic arms” WREX exoskeleton has been nominated for the Designs of the Year 2013 awards by London’s Design Museum.
“This is an exciting time for 3D printing, as more people become aware of its potential and its impact,” said Stratasys Executive VP of Global Marketing, Jon Cobb. “We are honored to have been involved in such a worthwhile project and pleased to see it recognized by the design community.”
Tags: 3D printer use in medical field, 3D printing arms, 3D-printed arms, Stratasys 3D printer, Stratasys 3D-printed magic arms