July 13, 2015 | By Alec

While a number of fantastic initiatives are already bringing affordable and simple 3D printed prosthetics to numerous people in need, the vast majority of amputees still do not have access to them. After all, virtually all of these initiatives are headquartered in the west, while eight out of ten amputees are in the third world. Fortunately, an ongoing project called the Victory Hand, by a team of researchers from the Canadian University of Victoria is specifically developing a mechanical prosthetic for amputees in Guatamala and Nepal, with other countries hopefully following soon.

Of course, there are already a number of prosthetic hands out there that could easily be 3D printed and sent across the ocean, the Victoria Hand project is being far more ambitious. Their goal is to provide custom upper-limb prosthetics (that attach to the upper arm, rather than the wrist) complete with a multipurpose and function grip to amputees in need regardless of their social economic status. The Victoria Hand Project is, logically, a non-profit organization. A very noble mission indeed ,but one made infinitely more complex due to the custom upper arm fit and a complex mechanical grip.

But as they have just revealed in an update, their 3D printable prostheses are slowly but certainly becoming a reality. ‘We use advanced, yet cost effective tools such as 3D printing and 3D laser scanning, to create our devices. With such prostheses, amputees can regain function to improve their quality of life, and may increase their access to employment opportunities,’ they explain.

And their designs look to be capable of just that. ‘The Victoria Hand prosthesis is more than a mechanical hand - it consists of a hand, a wrist, a socket and a harness. Together, these parts make up a complete prosthesis system,’ they write on their website. Incorporated into this system is an innovative wrist design and a flexible gripping mechanism that – as you can see in the clip above – can be used in wide range of day-to-day applications. ‘This [last]  feature enables the fingers to conform around the object that the hand is gripping. This assists in grasping oddly shaped or delicate objects, like an egg for example,’ they explain. ‘The back-lock mechanism allows the hand to be locked around the object that it's grasping, gripping the object with no effort from the user.’ And with a rotational thumb, amputees will now thus become able to hold and eat knives and forks, or even type and eat without any trouble at all.

3D printed manufacturing, meanwhile, ensures that these amazing features can be shared with any patient, regardless of their condition or what portion of their arm remains. ‘The socket is the part of the device that is in constant contact with the amputee. The fit is extremely important. Our unique method of 3D scanning and printing produces a fully custom socket, giving an amputee the comfort that comes with properly fit prosthesis system,’ they explain.

In short, the Victoria Hand seems to have everything people seek in prosthetics, but then for a fraction of the costs thanks to 3D printing. While not quite ready for the prime time, plans are already underway to bring this fantastic prosthetic to patients in, initially, Guatamala and Nepal. In Guatamala they are set to work together with prosthetic provider ROMP, while they have partnered with the Nepal Orthopedic Hospital at the other side of the world.

In both cases, the scanning, 3D printing and assembly are set to take place in the country where they are needed. Not only does this ensure optimal and speedy care, it is also a realistic way to provide prosthetics in the third world that makes expansion very viable very quickly. For why should only people in the west benefit from the marvels of 3D printing technology? For more on the progress of this fantastic initiative, keep an eye on the website of the Victoria Hand Project here.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Lynne wrote at 11/22/2015 3:49:15 AM:

This sounds great. Where are you providing lmbs at this time?

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