Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet

I am about to put more emphasis on the blog. I have changed some of what I am doing, and will say more about that in a few days.
Meanwhile, this story is about many things. Most of us have not been following what has been happening with what is called “3d printing.” This story shows something very heartening about the human dimensions of technology.

Read and watch (and comment if you like).

Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer

By Rose Eveleth | August 9, 2012, 3:00 AM PDT

Emma Lavelle was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), a genetic condition that causes joints and muscles to be stiff and nearly useless. At birth, Emma could move nothing but her thumb. After years of training and practice, she could move around without a walker, but her arms still hung by her sides, too stiff and weak for her to use.

“She would get really frustrated when she couldn’t play with things like blocks,” Megan Lavelle, Emma’s mother, says in the press release. When Megan saw a presentation of the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) being used by another patient with AMC, she immediately approached the doctor and asked if it could be used on Emma.

But the device wasn’t made for someone so small. The presentation showed an eight year old using WREX. The doctors had worked to make the device smaller, and got it working on six year olds who were in wheel chairs. But Emma could walk, and was only two.

Still, they tried, and when they brought Emma into the workshop and put her in a an experimental WREX, they saw an immediate improvement. Emma began playing, eating on her own for the first time, and throwing her arms up in the air.

Here’s a video, made by Stratasys, the company that prints the WREX device, of Emma using her exoskeleton:

Here’s another video of an older patient using it, made by Jaeco Orthopedic, the people who invented WREX:

The WREX exoskeleton isn’t new itself. Metal versions have been around for adults for a long time. But those are too heavy for most kids, especially those with difficulty lifting their arms. What makes this plastic version of WREX useful for kids is that it’s light, made from the same plastic that LEGO bricks are made from, and it’s easy to produce a custom model. SImply design, and print. And replacement parts are no problem, so as the child grows, new pieces can be printed to fit their bodies.

Via: PC World

Image:� Stratasys

via Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet.

via Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet.

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One thought on “Little girl gets new arms from a 3-D printer | SmartPlanet

  1. Father.

    I do know, because of you, a little about what is going on with 3D printing. The calling to focus the conversation on this article is wonderful. You are an example of intelligence with a heart. No flattery intended. I believe the applications of 3D printing are only limited by our imaginations.

    Though some of it puts me out of a job as one who fabricates clothes or art, the wider issue is how can we open the conversations possible for people are not limited by the need for custom fabrication.

    It is beyond the democratization of technology and privilege. To me it is a way to get more people involved in our next challenge as I see it: learning to exist in the “future.”

    Having the technology is one thing, utilizing it wisely is a serious challenge.

    I really appreciate that you are going to blog more. For myself, I am struggling with issues like these. There is a vacuum on the Internet. Very few actually smart people are publishing online. It is a drag honestly. Learning how to use a search engine is a useful skill, it rarely will find wisdom, though it’s great for finding a cheap toaster.

    Thank you for your work. It means something to me. I appreciate your thought and the way you are presenting this. I thank you for a chance to join the conversation!

    ~ stef

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