If you live in a more populated area you probably quite often see children or adults with impairments, using orthotic devices such as braces or leg splints. It’s so easy to rush by, unassisted, without ever giving a passing thought to the expense or excruciating process often endured by the children and parents just to obtain a splint or a brace.
Orthotics company Andiamo has just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indigogo to highlight their project which hopes to raise £30,000—or what would be around $50,000 U.S. In the hopes that their pain can blossom into something that helps children around the world, Nameed and Samiyah Parvez created Andiamo with a multi-faceted purpose.
They hope to change the lives of children around the world through offering 3D printed orthotics that will be provided painlessly, quickly, and with less expense. This small amount of funds would give them just enough to start working with two families for a 12-month period.
Samiyah and Nameed Parvez know all too well what life is like for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy—as well as the families. They lost their son Diamo at age nine, due to complications to the disease, after years of battling his condition and challenges associated with being fitted for orthotics, which were required to improve his quality of life. Diamo was a quadriplegic and had very little head control, which meant he needed multiple orthotics, such as a brace and splints, to help with posture and functioning.
“The orthotics systems were where the majority of our fights were,” says Samiya Parvez. “It was very, very hard to get just one item for our child, and it was a long struggle. The thought that we could eliminate that just drives me forward.”
Their son was extremely sensitive to temperature, touch, and various positions. Regardless, he had to be fitted for orthotics constantly, in an excruciating and ongoing process. Production times for the orthotics could take up to 13 weeks, and in the meantime, Diamo was constantly growing, so that often by the time they got the orthotic device, he may have already outgrown it—sending them right back to the drawing board. And did we mention expensive? Braces, splints, and an ongoing list of orthotics cost many thousands of dollars. Using 3D printed parts could reduce cost substantially.
Andiamo plans to offer mobile 3D scanning units where they can perform home visits. They do a quick scan, digitize the data needed for orthotics, and produce the orthotic within two days. This is a massive jump from the excruciating process and trauma of dragging a disabled child to a special center, going through the process of being painted with plaster, waiting for it to set, and then receiving the orthotic months later, and finding out that it no longer fits.
The team will work together with the 3D printing experts behind Digits2Widgets, who have extensive experience with applying industrial strength 3D printers for medical situations. They will also be collaborating with several UK universities and an ongoing research project of Kingston University.
Andiamo’s current problem is in raising capital, as they have raised little or no interest through the venture capitalists they have approached, who found the project to be too risky.
“We learned that Andiamo is deemed by traditional investors as a risky venture as we aim to disrupt an industry that hasn’t changed in over a hundred years. Traditional investors don’t like risky ventures,” said Nameed Parvez. “It’s a massive market that’s actually served by a very tiny number of people. The actual knowledge of how big it is, is very tiny. And investors are quickly scared off by a market that doesn’t service a whole lot of people.
Our overall approach is to build a coalition of users, parents, clinicians, and other experts that fundamentally believe that the way health is being delivered is changing to put the power in the individuals hands.”
While a project like Andiamo could initially come across as a mere fundraising project, it is—upon looking into–much more complex, and presents great opportunity to change the way children with disabilities live. This is a costly project and it will require a lot of money and a qualified group of experts, but the outcome could provide a different quality of life for disabled children, forever.