Development of a low-cost 3-D printed shoulder
This study prototyped and tested a 3-D printed upper limb prosthesis for a 7 year old boy. Within 2 weeks, bilateral activity movements showed improvement and additional postural improvements were seen. Nonetheless, grip strength was insufficient to improve unilateral movement much.
Prosthetics for children can be a complicated field, due the difference in needs compared to the adult population. Children's rapid growth and the cost of components can make it difficult to obtain an upper limb prosthetic in both the developed and developing world.There have been many developments with desktop 3-D printers and computer-aided design programs, which would allow distal fitting and cheap production.
This prosthetic was designed to allow functional grasp in a way that was lightweight and visually appealing to a child. It was not designed as a long term prosthetic, but rather transitional, for children to become accustomed to the use of a prosthetic. This process is in its early stages, and the durability and usability of the prototype are sub-maximal, but it is hoped that this will be addressed in the future.
Want to know more about 3-D printed prosthetics for children? Visit the Enabling The Future website, or have a look at the video below:
What design would you put on your own printed prosthetic?
> From: Zuniga et al., Prosthet Orthot Int (2016) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to The International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics 2016.. Click here for the Pubmed summary.