Two Children Receive 3D Printed Prosthetics at Newly Opened Center in India

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Dr. H. Vinod Bhat hands a ball to a child who recently received a prosthetic arm from the new Hastha Centre for Congenital Hand Differences. [Image: Times of India]

A child with a missing or damaged limb doesn’t get to do a lot of the things that make up a childhood, such as playing sports. Prosthetics have, in the past, been highly expensive devices that not everyone can afford, and prosthetics for children are a particular challenge because kids outgrow them and need new ones so quickly. 3D printing has changed that, however, making things easier for children with limb differences in a number of ways. 3D printed prosthetics are drastically cheaper, costing in the hundreds of dollars – or less – rather than thousands. They can be easily customized to fit comfortably and allow the wearer to throw a ball or do any of the other multitudes of activities a typical child does. Their appearance can be customized as well, lessening stigma and allowing the wearer to look like a superhero instead of someone with a disability.

Two children in Manipal, India recently received 3D printed prosthetic limbs from the brand new 3D printing facility at the Department of Orthopedics at Kasturba Hospital. The 3D printing facility, called the Hastha Centre for Congenital Hand Differences, was established specifically for the 3D printing of artificial limbs, particularly for children. The prosthetics made at the center can be customized to any level of amputation, whether above or below the elbow or for missing or shortened fingers. They can also be task specific, allowing kids to have different prosthetics for sports, school work, or other daily tasks.

[Image: Kasturba Hospital]

The Hastha Centre for Congenital Hand Differences was established under the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) through the unit of Hand and Microsurgery at the Department of Orthopaedics, Kasturba Medical College and Hospital. The Chief Coordinator for the center is Dr. Anil K. Bhat, Professor and Head, Department of Orthopaedics, Manipal. It was inaugurated recently by Dr. H. Vinod Bhat, Vice Chancellor, MAHE.

It’s encouraging that hospitals and medical centers are taking 3D printed prosthetics seriously enough to create entire departments devoted to them. A major milestone came recently when the first clinical trials for 3D printed bionic prosthetics began in the United States, signalling that the medical establishment is indeed seeing the many benefits of 3D printing for the purpose of creating artificial limbs. Not long ago, 3D printed prosthetics were mostly the domain of makers and nonprofits, but the evidence of how beneficial they are can’t be ignored.

[Image: e-NABLE]

India has been on the map for its progressive uses of medical 3D printing lately, including some groundbreaking surgeries using 3D printed implants to restore mobility and even save lives. The country has become very serious about 3D printing, particularly in the medical field, so it’s not surprising that it should open a center entirely dedicated to 3D printing prosthetic limbs.

Millions of children around the world are in need of prosthetic limbs, and organizations such as e-NABLE have been working tirelessly to see that as many children are given access to them as possible. It’s still vitally important, though, that hospitals avail themselves of 3D printing technology as well. Eventually, 3D printed prosthetics might be the norm instead of the exception, making affordable artificial limbs available to patients in need everywhere.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Times of India]

 

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