6 Year Old Boy Receives a 3D Printed Prosthetic Arm – Thanks to e-NABLE

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Derek preparing to try on his 3D printed arm – courtesy of Jon Schull

It seems like every other day, we are covering another prosthetic device created by an organization called e-NABLE. Up until now, we have only reported on prosthetic hands that have been made for individuals who are missing the majority of their hand. These prosthetics are based on variations of several different open source models, such as the Cyborg Beast, the Ody Hand, and the Talon Hand, among others.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with e-NABLE, they are an organization of volunteers, that through 3D printing and sharing of ideas, help bring prosthetics to those in need. A typical prosthetic hand can cost upwards of $50,000, while a 3D printed hand can be made for well under $100. With children, it really isn’t feasible to spend a ton of money on a prosthetic device, that they will only outgrow within a year or so. This is why e-NABLE has been such a tremendous initiative that undoubtedly deserves more national attention.

e-NABLE has been extremely successful in creating working 3D printed prosthetic hands for individuals, but recently the organizations founder Jon Schull was presented with a rather large challenge. A 6-year-old boy, named Derek, was in need of an affordable prosthetic. Derek, unfortunately was missing not only his hand, but just about his entire right forearm. This became a huge challenge, since e-NABLE had yet to successfully create an entire working 3D printed arm.

Jon Schull and his team were up to the challenge though. They hit the drawing board and came up with quite the unique design for a prosthetic arm. The arm design was created by RIT students Jascha Wilcox, Paul Richard and Derek himself, who invented the extra long feature.  It is based on prior work by the entire e-NABLE community, Robohand, and others.  It is mostly 3D printed, with one exception being a PVC pipe in place of Derek’s forearm.

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Derek (foreground) picking up a bottle with his 3D printed arm, as Jon Schull looks on.

Just this past Friday, May 30th, Jon Schull, along with Occupational Therapists David Dietz and Nathan Ramsey met with 6-year-old Derek, his mother and his grandparents, as well as a few other friends and relatives, to try out the new 3D Printed arm that they had created.

“There are improvements to be made in the arm, but Derek and his mom thought his was good enough to go,” reported Jon Schull. “He wore it home.”

The arm works using cables, in similar manner as the 3D printed prosthetic hands which have been made prior. On a typical Cyborg Beast, or other 3D printed hand, when the patient bends his/her wrist, cables that run through the fingers are pulled, causing the fingers to bend. Derek’s 3D printed arm works in a similar fashion. When he bends his albow, the cables are pulled, causing the fingers to bend. You can see more in the video below:

Undoubtedly there will be plenty of changes to be made, once Derek has had the time to experiment with his new arm. However, for now, it appears as though the 3D printed arm will be yet another success story to add to the incredible, ever expanding book of miracles, that e-NABLE has been writing.

Discuss this 3D printed arm, in the e-NABLE 3D printed prosthetic arm thread on 3DPB.com

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[Images from Jon Schull of e-NABLE]

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