Aug 10, 2016 | By Benedict

William Joyner, a British eight-year-old who was born without a left hand, has received a 3D printed robotic prosthesis in the colors of his favorite soccer team. The 3D printed hand, colored in the blue and white of second-tier club Reading F.C., was funded by the University of Bedfordshire.

Image: University of Bedfordshire

Many sports fans choose to show their club allegiance through scarves, hats, and replica jerseys. A handful of others go further still, by having their favorite teams and players tattooed onto their skin. One soccer-mad youngster in England, however, can now show his support for Reading F.C. with a new blue-and-white hand—a robotic prosthesis 3D printed at a nearby university. Eight-year-old William Joyner has supported Reading F.C., affectionately known as “The Royals,” since he was small, and can now show his support for 145-year-old club by simply giving a wave.

Joyner, who was born without a left hand after suffering from amniotic band syndrome in the womb, is a keen and gifted soccer player who currently plays for a youth team affiliated with Leicester City, the reigning champions of the English Premier League. But while the young sportsman may already be a whizz with the ball at his feet, he will soon acquire a completely new set of physical skills, including the ability to hold objects, write, and draw with his left hand. Academics from the University of Bedfordshire have designed a 3D printed robotic arm for Joyner, which will enable the youth to grip objects through arm movements.

The 3D printed hand was developed and 3D printed at the University of Bedfordshire by technician Mark Hooper and senior lecturer David Jazani. Joyner, who lives in Paulerspury,  Northamptonshire, around 30 miles from the university’s Luton campus, was first fitted for a few prototype versions of the hand, but was able to try out the final blue-and-white version on Tuesday. Staff at the university oversaw Joyner’s first attempts trying out the 3D printed prosthesis, with the youngster reporting that it felt “really good.” Hooper and Jazani will make just a few more tweaks to the prosthesis in the next few weeks, after which Joyner will be free to use his new 3D printed hand for the foreseeable future, probably into his teens.

Images: University of Bedforshire

In the end, developing the 3D printed hand turned out to be something of a collaborative process, with Joyner’s initial tests of the prosthesis showing the university staff that the hand could be used in a different way: “There were some problems with [the robotic hand’s] thumb so they chopped it off and reattached another one that William could use better,” said Joyner’s mother Jo, 38. “He adapted to it so quickly, the guys who made it were surprised. He used the thumb in a completely different way to what they expected. Now they are going to go away and re-point the thumb so it works better. It’s all about trial and error.”

Although Joyner has had surgery in the past, a serious infection caused by the last procedure caused the youth and his family to pursue other options. The robotic hand, a safe and effective solution, should help him to live more comfortably than ever before and, according to his mother, will give him the confidence he needs to succeed in life. Luckily, the developers of the prosthesis say the eight-year-old appears to be adapting fast: “It’s been brilliant watching him take to the hand so quickly and seeing the smile on his face,” Hooper told the BBC. “As the technology progresses, we hope to be able to help more people in the future.”

In recognition of Joyner’s passionate support, Reading F.C. issued a statement regarding the young fan’s new 3D printed prosthesis: “It is of course very exciting to hear about William's robotic hand,” a spokeswoman for the club said. “We're delighted to hear the university will be creating this using our colors and we can't wait to see William using it.”

Images: SWNS

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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