This past week, Paulo Costa Boa Nova and his father, Claudio Boa Nova, flew from their home in Brazil to Orlando, Florida. The trip was one of the most important ones of young Paulo’s life. Born with a partially developed right arm due to a genetic defect, Paulo was coming to the US courtesy of Orlando Health, a family of non-profit hospitals that provide care for Central Floridians.
In Orlando, Paulo and Claudio were meeting with two very different but special teams. The first was a team of student volunteers at the University of Central Florida (UCF). They offer their services to an organization called Limbitless Solutions, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to, says their website, “building a generation of innovators who use their skills and passion to improve the world around them.”
Limbitless Solutions uses 3D printing and personalized bionics to create solutions for people with disabilities. The organization, founded by Fulbright Scholar and UCF doctoral student Albert Manero II, believes that no family of a child with such a disability should have to pay to benefit from a life-changing prosthetic limb.
UCF students working with Limbitless Solutions began working in the summer of 2014 to create a 3D printed prosthetic arm for another child, six-year-old Alex Pring from Central Florida. Since then, they’ve helped six children with disabilities realize the dream of having prosthetic arms that help them live life more fully. The students, including Manero, all volunteer their time and skills to the effort. They are all pursuing different degrees, from art to engineering and most all of them attend school full-time in addition to holding down part-time jobs.
On weekends and between school and work, the Limbitless Solutions team work together to build high-functioning prosthetic arms for children. They’ve received hundreds of requests from around the world for assistance. There are currently four prosthetic arms in production and a waiting list of 200 children in need.
Paulo’s father had seen a video on YouTube concerning the prosthetic arm Limbitless Solutions had made for another child and began his quest to get help from the organization on behalf of his own child. When the Limbitless Solutions team produces a prosthetic arm for a child, they design it especially with that child and his or her interests and passions in mind. Paulo is passionate about soccer, so the custom design of his prosthetic arm was based the colors and mascot of his favorite Brazilian soccer team.
While his favorite Brazilian team wasn’t present when Paulo received his new prosthetic arm, the team at Limbitless Solutions had made arrangements with the Major League Soccer Club in Sanford, Florida to make the presentation there. He had the opportunity to meet and shake hands with several team members and even got to kick a ball around with two players, Tally Hall and Aurélien Collin–and with Alex Pring, who was able to shake 3D printed hands with Paulo. Paulo’s was the first international delivery of a custom-designed and 3D printed prosthetic arm by Limbitless Solutions.
Just this past Saturday, July 18th, Paulo and his father along with several LS team members made an appearance at the Orlando City Lions’ soccer match against the New York Red Bulls at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. The Lions soccer club, who unfortunately lost to the Red Bulls, won in the larger picture as they were also instrumental in bringing Paulo and his father to Florida, where the boy was presented with his new prosthetic arm.
That evening, Lions team VP of Communications, Leonard Santiago, spoke about Paulo and the Limbitless Solutions team:
“He’s got the true heart of a Lion, having shown tremendous spirit and courage. Hats off as well to the Limbitless Solutions team from UCF on their hard work and dedication–they have changed Paulo’s life, and those of many other children, for the better.”
Accolades are in order, as well, to the power of 3D printing to make such remarkable advances in prosthetic design possible.
Let us know what you think about this latest 3D printed hand helping a child out in the Limbitless Solutions 3D Printed Hand for Soccer Fan forum thread over at 3DPB.com.