Nov 7, 2016 | By Alec

While we are huge supporters of all kinds of medical 3D printing applications, nothing is quite as heartwarming as seeing 3D printed prosthetics that give kids a chance at a normal life. Of course people of all ages are benefiting 3D printed customized prosthetics, but especially kids can use a boost to their self-esteem. While kids with missing limbs are often singled out for ridicule (in some societies even ostracized), 3D printing makes it possible to not just restore their identity, but even build on it as well. Just look at the fantastic 3D printed arm of the two-year-old Everton fan Kobi, which boasts his team’s logo and will make all of his friends jealous once he’s a bit older.

Kobi is from Moreton, Merseyside, in Liverpool – a city whose population is completely divided into two groups: fans of the Liverpool football club and the Everton football club (soccer for our American readers). Just being born in a particular neighborhood is enough for determining which club will bring you misery and happiness for the rest of your life, and Kobi is the son of proud Everton supporters Kelly and Mike Sadler.

But Kobi stands out from other two-year-old Everton fans for one reason: he was born without his right forearm and hand. This was caused by a rare blood flow issue that affects just one in 26,000 babies. “At the time I was told about Kobi's arm I was shocked because I was worried it was something I'd done,” mom Kelly recalls. “But it was just one of those things - something blocked the blood flow to his arm. It happens to one in 26,000 babies and we were that one. When I got home I had a little cry, but then I thought I needed to be proactive. So I started to research what we could do to help him.”

This brought parents Kelly and Mike, who are also caring for their five-year-old daughter Bailee, in touch with 3D printing. “I learned all about 3D printed arms for kids through a charity called Enable and made provisional enquiries with them about what we could do before he was even born,” Kelly explained. “The design on the arm is great, it makes prosthetics cool. You can do them with all different designs, so and as he gets older he can decide on whatever design he wants.”

Among others, Kobi’s parents got in touch with missing limb charity Reach, through which they met now close friends Greg and Tori. Their son Oakley had a very similar limb deficiency and sported a 3D printed arm – prompting Greg to offer to make another for Kobi. Kelly was ecstatic. “'He did it completely free of charge, he said that we're friends for life,” she recalls. “You can do them with different designs, so he said he would do one in Everton colors, and then I decorated it with logos all over for him. As Kobi gets older he can decide on whatever design he wants.” The arm itself was based on a 3D printable template by Team Unlimbited, provided via the charity Open Source.

The result is impressive, and could actually be one of the smallest 3D printed prostheses in the world. We haven’t yet seen one for a two-year-old, but it looks as good as any other. 3D printed in about twenty hours (and assembled in another two), it sports Everton’s blue and white colors as well as a club logo. The arm itself features a clever gripping mechanism, which relies on ‘tendons’ made from fishing line and elastic bands that enable the fingers to grip objects. For a comfortable fit, the prosthesis also includes moleskin padding and a Velcro attachment strip.

Most importantly, Kobi likes it too. “He's fine without the arm too, because he's never known anything different - it's just normal for him,” his mom said, adding that he can choose his own design when he’s older. But an even more enthusiastic response followed after Kobi’s parents shared a photo online. Thousands of Everton fan provided support, and even brought Kobi to the attention of the club itself. “When we saw the Facebook post from Kobi's parents and the inspirational story about his 3D arm, we wanted to ensure Kobi's first experience at Goodison Park was one he would never forget,” an Everton spokesperson said.

Kobi and his parents recently visited the club’s Goodison Park stadium, met various players (even though Kobi might be too young to know exactly who they are) and received a behind-the-scenes tour. “Evertonians are rightly proud of the club and Kobi having the club's crest on his 3D arm shows how passionate he and his family are about Everton,” the spokesperson said. “But, more importantly, we were keen to help in some small way to spread the positive message of Kobi's story and the way he and his family have dealt with the challenges he has faced. Hopefully the Sadler family have some amazing memories to take away from the day and we look forward to welcoming them back to Goodison Park in the near future.”

Kobi himself loved the trip, and his parents were overwhelmed by the positive community response. “I've printed out all the comments we've had on social media so that Kobi can read them when he's older - we can't thank Everton and the fans enough,” mom Kelly said, adding that it will do wonders when Kobi becomes other and more insecure about his arm. “When we're out at places like the soft-play center, other kids follow him around and ask, ‘why hasn't he got an arm?’,” Kelly added. The family is already saving up for their own 3D printer to build more limbs, including for other local kids with similar problems.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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KattyF wrote at 11/9/2016 3:26:06 PM:

Oh. I can't stop crying.. God bless this people who gave this cute boy modern "arm" and even with favorite logo . God bless you, god bless! Thank you!

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