Jun 29, 2015 | By Simon

Although by now we’ve heard our fair share of stories that revolve around ways that 3D printing has helped those with mobility problems live more fulfilling lives through the use of assistance devices, the best stories involve those where the actual users have assisted in designing the objects themselves to create their own 3D printed devices to solve their various mobility conditions.  

Just earlier this year, we saw how Mohammad Sayed,  a 16-year-old, redesigned his own wheelchair to be better suited for his needs with the help from classmates for part of a class project.  The resulting designs have not only helped Sayed with his daily activities, but they can also be shared with others who have access to a 3D printer.  

More recently, Brandy Leigh Scott, a successful post-production supervisor in Los Angeles, overcame the challenges of her Dupuytrens Contracture symptoms by developing her own solutions with the help of the support from online 3D printing supplier MatterHackers and their 3D printers.  

Scott’s condition, which she has had since she was a child, limits the ability for her to use her hands to perform everyday tasks.  Over time, the condition creates tight cord-like areas underneath the skin that cause the fingers to draw inwards, which subsequently limits her ability to fully open and close her hands.

 

Although she has had the condition throughout her entire life, Scott has found ways of adapting to the condition over time.  

“It affects men and women, usually men, after the age of sixty, and I contracted it when I was seven,” says Scott.  “I have issues with doorknobs, glasses, anything I drink out of really. I need a mug or anything with a stem is perfect.”

Along the way, Scott has found various products that she has converted into tools that help her accomplish various tasks.  Among others was a plastic cup holder with a handle that was capable of compensating for any cup size.  Sadly, when Scott wanted to purchase additional cup holders to have around she learned that the manufacturer had since discontinued their production.  

While this was certainly devastating news considering how useful the tool was, it was also the beginning of what would become Scott’s realization that she could create her own tools using a 3D printer after the suggestion was made by  long-time friend Mara Hitner .  

“You know we can just print more of these,” said Hitner.

Soon after, her friend started working at the only 3D printing supplier MatterHackers, and looked into finding a solution for Scott.  

“I started speaking with Dave Gaylord, who is our Director of Print Solutions, and he is a great designer. I told him about Brandy and the condition with her hands, and he started coming up with a couple of ideas,” said Hitner.

Soon after, Gaylord and Scott met up and Scott was able to share with Gaylord her daily struggles - many of which most of us take for granted.  Among other maneuvers that Scott struggles with include sliding a credit card through the card reader at the gas station.  To fix this, Gaylord created a set of forceps that make holding the card easier for Scott.

In addition to the forceps, Gaylord also designed a soda can holder and a replica of the original cup holder that had since been discontinued by the manufacturer.  

“We were able to get them in Brandy’s hands, make some design changes and really optimize them for her particular hands and exactly what she needs to use them for to make daily tasks in her life much easier,” said Gaylord.

Unsurprisingly, Scott now sees opportunities at every corner for a new 3D printed device.  

“Now that I have been kind of more exposed first hand with 3D printing, it really has opened up more things for me,” she adds.   

“Everyday, I’ll do something that doesn’t work for me and I immediately think ‘Ahh what could we print that could help me out with this?’ I feel like it is just unlimited at this point … it is really cool.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

 

 

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