A prosthetic hand made with 3D-printing technology has provided a functional right hand for a 6-year-old boy born with a rare disorder, according to Reuters. The boy, Lucas Abraham, showed his new “bionic” hand made for him by bioengineering students at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky.
The child noted that it’s the best Christmas gift he’s ever received during a news conference at the university. Within minutes of receiving the hand, Abraham could grasp a ball. A video posted on Twitter shows Lucas getting some practice playing catch with a ball using his new hand. The boy will also be able to crash cymbals together in his music class.
Child Had Asked For A ‘Robo-Hand’
Abraham was born with Symbrachydactyly, a condition where a person does not have a fully-functioning hand or foot. The child was born without fingers on his right hand.
He had asked for a “robo-hand” for years, a prosthetic device that would allow him to hold a piece of paper, grab a baseball and help him zip his jacket, according to the Courier Journal in Louisville.
Following months of work by the students, this week Abraham went to his school, Bowen Elementary School, wearing his “bionic” hand. The device uses tendon-like cords that allow the child to grip when bending his wrist.
The hand was the first made at the university, according to bioengineering professor Gina Bertocci, who noted that more such hands could be made. The university described the hand as “bionic.”
The 3D technology reduces the manufacturing cost. The plastics used, similar to Lego blocks plastics, enable the devices to be made in different colors, Bertocci noted.
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3D Printing Creates New Opportunities
3D printing made it possible to make the hands for less than $50 in materials versus thousands that would be required to make a traditional prosthetic hand, according to Bertocci.
The students created a digital version of the hand and used a 3D printer the size of a small refrigerator to ensure the hand was the right fit. It took more than 30 hours to print each hand.
Kids like the hand because it makes them look like a Transformer, Bertocci added.
e-NABLE, a global volunteer organization that prints and designs prosthetics, provided assistance to the students.
Three hands made of leather, plastic and wire were created to fit Abraham, who will keep two of them while the university will use the third hand for accreditation purposes.
The hands were given to the Abraham family for free.
Julie Abraham, the child’s grandmother, said he has displayed more self-confidence after receiving the hand. She had contacted the university in August to see if they could help him.