Dec 13, 2018 | By Cameron

A Doctor’s Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières in its French origin) reconstructive surgery hospital in Amman, Jordan is providing 3D printed prosthetics to those scarred by war and conflict in the region. Patients come from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Gaza, where proper medical care is limited and expensive. The Amman hospital has been operating for over a decade, patching up victims of bombs, shrapnel, bullets, and burns, but for the past two years, the hospital has been experimenting with 3D printed prosthetics.

"The MSF Foundation launched the 3D project in Amman in February last year, and we started to see the first patients two months later," said Pierre Moreau, clinical coordinator for the project. "So far, we have delivered 16 printed prosthetics. But our role doesn't stop here. We support patients through a string of occupational therapy sessions to show what they can do with them."

Some of the patients had other prosthetics that they didn’t use because they were uncomfortable or not helpful due to limited dexterity. By 3D scanning the damaged and undamaged limbs of patients, a prosthetic can be modeled to both look like the patient’s other hand and to fit comfortably, and 3D printing them is more affordable than buying pre-made versions. Technicians carefully match the skin tone of each prosthetic and then coat it with a protective varnish that’s food safe and washable. The method is also used to create custom face-shaped masks that help burns heal more effectively by applying even pressure.

The study is meant to prove the feasibility of 3D printing prosthetics in more remote areas near war zones. "The idea is to be able to produce 3D-printed prosthetics in the future in places difficult to access and lacking a sound healthcare system, like in conflict areas. But the way to do it is still under discussion, as it is not always easy to find technicians available in these areas, and printers are still expensive," said Moreau.

Of course, the cost of 3D printers has fallen drastically over the past few years and is still falling, so that’ll be one hurdle overcome. But more work still needs to be done on improving the functionality of affordable 3D printed prosthetics. War doesn’t wait for innovation, but thankfully makers around the world have united to use 3D printing to undo some of its damage.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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