Apr 6, 2017 | By Benedict
New York-based healthcare provider Northwell Health has provided Marine Corps veteran Dan Lasko with what could be the world’s first 3D printed amphibious prosthetic leg. “The Fin” allows amputees like Lasko to both walk and swim without switching prostheses.
Veteran Dan Lasko is back in the pool with his 3D printed amphibious prosthesis
Incredible developments in the growing area of 3D printed prosthetics have meant that, for amputees like veteran Dan Lasko, losing a leg does not mean the end of an active life. High-quality 3D printed prostheses are allowing more and more people—even those without high-end healthcare plans—to walk, run, and generally enjoy all the benefits that come with having two legs.
Until now, however, 3D printed prosthetic legs have fallen short in one key area: their ability to go swimming and walking. While amphibious prosthetic limbs have existed for many years, it appeared that nobody had yet perfected a single 3D printable prosthesis that would allow the wearer to both walk and swim. Northwell Healthcare, a New York healthcare provider, has just seen to that absence by creating “The Fin,” possibly the world’s first 3D printed amphibious prosthetic leg.
Although it could potentially benefit many people, The Fin was designed with a particular recipient in mind: 33-year-old Marine Corps veteran Dan Lasko, whose leg was amputated below the knee in 2004 after his vehicle hit an explosive device in Afghanistan. Lasko, an accomplished athlete, didn’t let his amputation quash his passion for exercise, and continued to run marathons and take part in sports. One thing he couldn’t do, however, was swim using his regular day-today prosthetic leg.
Northwell Health's 'The Fin' prosthesis could soon be commercialized
The development of the 3D printed amphibious prosthetic leg has allowed Lasko to return to the water at last—something the veteran is incredibly happy about. Previously, he would have to simply remove his prosthetic leg, hand it to his wife, and go swimming with just one leg. “The Fin is greatly improving my quality of life and allows me to return to my love of swimming,” he said. “I recently got back in the pool with my two young sons and for the first time was able to dive into the pool with them.”
Rather than functioning as a complete leg, the new 3D printed device attaches to a standard prosthesis, and allows amputees to enter and exit water without swapping prostheses. Holes in the device serve to reduce resistance in the water, allowing Lasko (and, soon, other wearers) to swim naturally without being weighed down by the prosthesis. The Fin was 3D printed on a Markforged 3D printer in carbon-fiber-enhanced nylon, giving it both flexibility and strength.
The 3D printed prosthesis is made from enhanced nylon
The Fin, Lasko’s new amphibious 3D printed prosthesis, was designed and fabricated by Northwell Health’s 3D printing experts, with the help of Long Island-based Eschen Prosthetic and Orthotic Laboratories, Plainview-based CPC (Composite Protyping Center), and a prosthetic design firm headquartered in Hicksville. Northwell and Eschen are now planning to commercialize the 3D printed prosthesis, which could cost between $2,000 and $5,000.
“For amputees with a passion for swimming, there was no device out there that was truly amphibious and allowed them to really swim,” commented Thomas Thornton, senior vice president of Northwell Ventures. “We made something that didn’t exist and solved a specific problem in a very spectacular way. We hope to develop other customized solutions that will enable the estimated 1.9 million people have lost a limb nationwide, a number that is expected to double by 2050, to resume active lifestyles.”
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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