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The US Veterans’ Administration Enlists the 3D Printing Community to Improve Lives of the Nation’s Veterans

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched an exciting new project on May 15. It is an initiative they hope will inspire the maker community to create innovative new prosthetics and assistive technologies that will improve the care for and quality of life for the country’s veterans. We cannot overstate how invaluable 3D design and printing technology has already been in this effort and now, the VA Center for Innovation is challenging the thinkers and the doers to once again put their creativity to the test.VA_TourMap

The VA Innovation Creation Series Challenge is the brainchild of the VA Center for Innovation. It was officially launched at the Palo Alto VA Medical Center in California. The primary goal is to create “an open ecosystem of prosthetics and other assistive technologies” through the use of 3D printing and open-source availability.

With the launch of the initiative, the VA has provided some specific challenges:VACI_ICS_logo_2color

  • Develop novel upper and lower extremity devices at the end of the prosthetic for daily use.
  • Create a medication pill box that allows the flexibility to hold medications that need to be taken up to eight times a day with a reminder system for each time medication needs to be taken.
  • Design a device to remotely change the speed and grip strength of a prosthetic device for our veterans with upper extremity injuries.
  • Create a way to reassign motions and buttons on gaming controllers to provide alternative access for veterans who are using them in therapy to improve eye-hand coordination, fine-motor control, and/or range of motion.
  • Create a device that can dampen tremors when someone is performing fine motor tasks.

va logoIt’s an ambitious project that, having identified some very specific needs with regard to many of the nation’s veterans, aims to enlist the best and the brightest makers to apply their skills to an unarguably worthy cause. The timeline for the challenge is somewhat accelerated, which underlines how crucial this cause really is. From the day of the launch, May 15, through June and July, participants and collaborators begin working together to create, innovate, refine, and complete designs in accordance with the five specified goals.

The challenge comes to an exciting close at a two-day make-a-thon on July 28 and 29 in Richmond, Virginia at the Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center. The US Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation has teamed up with Genesis, the Schlesinger Academy for Innovation; the National Institutes of Health (NIH) 3D Print Exchange; the Ipsos Girls’ Lounge; the NASA Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation; the Center for Women Veterans; and e-NABLE. The challenge website provides details for those who want to become involved in this exciting effort.

Do you know veterans who would–or have already–benefit from 3D printing technology? Will you be taking this challenge on in order to help those who have served? Let us know about your ideas in the 3D Printing for US Veterans forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

 

 

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