Sep 3, 2014

"I had a child with a handicap; now I have a normally functioning son."

7-year-old Joos fell on the playground at school and broke both bones in his left forearm in a playground accident in 2013. When the healing process was complete and the cast was removed, it was revealed that Joos had a crooked, improperly-healed arm for which the simplest movements had become impossible, not to mention to do some of his favourite things such as summersaults or handstands. This also left him without feeling in his fingers.

Their doctor and physiotherapist told them that there was nothing to be done, but Joos's parents didn't give up. They continued to look for a way to fix their son's arm and one year after the fall, they found hand specialist Frederik Verstreken MD (Monica Hospital, Antwerp, Belgium).

To set Joos's arm back to normal, a novel technology needed to be used. Thanks to new 3D printing technology, the surgeon was able to achieve a good result. After taking scan of both of Joos' arms, the healthy right arm was used as a model to correct the injured left arm.

Dr. Verstreken works with Leuven, Belgium based 3D printing company Materialise, a pioneer in the medical applications of 3D Printing, to 3D print a patient-specific surgical guide. During the surgery, the guide is placed in the patient's bone and fit like a glove on the exact spot. Once the guide is in place, surgeon then drilled holes and cut the bone through the guide. For Joos' arm it was impossible to work with standard plates as the case was so complex. A 3D-printed, custom-made titanium implants create by Mobelife was used to place the bone in the correct position. By putting the plate in the pre-drilled holes, Dr. Verstreken was able to automatically correct the rotation by turning the bone in the planned position. This guaranteed the results he wanted to obtain.

Few days after the surgery, Joos could feel his fingers, a sensation he had not felt for the previous 6 months.

The result of the surgery exceeded the mother's expectations. Although he avoided the use of his once badly-healed arm, Joos can no longer tell which arm he had surgery on without looking for the scar. "I had a child with a handicap, now he's a normally functioning boy," said Joos' mother. 3D printing give the child a fresh chance for a carefree and active childhood. Watch the video of Joos's story below:



Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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