Jun 20, 2017 | By Julia

A young toddler with cerebral palsy in Sydney, Australia has taken her first independent steps thanks to a pair of 3D printed "Magic Shoes." Eve Darcy was diagnosed with the pervasive physical disability when she was only a few weeks old, making walking extra difficult for the youngster. A walking frame was required for Eve’s baby steps, which were limited to a few small steps at a time.

Recently, Eve’s parents were overjoyed to discover local startup AbilityMate, a small company based in the west of Sydney. Geared specifically towards kids with disabilities, AbilityMate is an entrepreneurial group of designers, engineers, and allied health professionals who specialize in 3D printing custom posture and mobility equipment. Locals know AbilityMate best for its clever innovation dubbed as “Magic Shoes.”

While reminiscent of 3D printed prosthetics initiatives such as e-NABLE, AbilityMate sets itself apart with its particular focus on children’s shoes. Measurements of the child’s foot are taken using 3D scanners, with the data then sent off to a 3D printer in nearby Guildford. There, Magic Shoes are manufactured using state-of-the-art equipment, and can be fitted in a few days—a fraction of the time it usually takes for traditionally made cerebral palsy shoes.

“She was in daycare on Wednesday, she walked in with her frame, she didn't go Thursday, and she walked in on her own on Friday. It happened so fast, she just took off,” Eve’s dad, Joe Darcy, told press.

It’s one of many success stories seen by Melissa Fuller, the co-founder of AbilityMate who is keen to see the company grow. “The potential is endless," she said. "We are starting with ankle foot orthotics but there's orthotics for heads necks, backs.”

Fuller is confident that her company’s tech, which is much faster and cheaper than traditional methods, speaks for itself, but it has still been a long path starting out.

Recently, AbilityMate launched a crowdfunding campaign for material testing and administration. The campaign quickly proved successful, raising $97,000 in only one month. Fuller says the campaign was a fantastic head start for the company, which is continuing to raise funds for testing Magic Shoes.

Currently, AbilityMate is in the process of building an online platform enabling approved 3D printing hubs around the world to register and get paid to make assistive devices like Magic Shoes.

AbilityMate has also launched a search for 30 children (who fit strict criteria) to properly put Magic Shoes to the test.

Meanwhile, Eve’s mother Hiam Sakakini said her toddler is positively thriving. “[Eve] can just hang with other kids… and not be held back by the fact she was a lot less mobile,” Sakakini said. “I can go into a playground with her and she can just go.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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