3D Printed Exoskeleton Gives Arms to Congenital Disorder Patient

First Posted: Aug 04, 2012 03:57 AM EDT

A new video released by Stratasys projected how a 3D printer can make a huge difference to someone by offering a new life all together.

It is surprising to see how a 3D printer helped four-year-old Emma Lavelle to overcome the limitations of a congenital disorder, allowing her to use her arms for the first time.

The researchers at the Alfred duPont Hospital for Children in Philadelphia created magic arms for Emma using a Dimension 3D printer. This device is a custom designed robotic exoskeleton that enables her to conquer greatly limited joint mobility and underdeveloped muscles. The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) is made of hinged metal bars, resistance bands and tiny 3D printed parts. Emma calls them her "magic arms."

Two-year-old Emma was born with a condition called arthrogryposis, which affects the joints and muscles. In Emma's case, it means, among other things, that she is unable to lift her arms up under her own steam.

The trend of 3D printing is gaining popularity amongst designers, engineers and educators because of it unique ability to deliver personalized solutions that tackle through human challenges. 3D printing is helping to break down barriers in man's quest to solve some of its greatest challenges in society, science and healthcare.

"Some of our world's greatest ideas are being 3D-printed," says Scott Crump, chairman and CEO of Stratasys. "Engineers want their technical work to connect to a greater good, and 3D printing is helping them bring their ideas to fruition to improve lives and the world around us. As more people become aware of the possibilities of 3D printing, its impact outside of traditional manufacturing and design realms will continue to grow."

This isn't the only medical use for 3-D printed objects. Last year, we looked at 3-D printing bone technology that could one day help people grow new bone tissue. Further down the line, we might even see 3-D printed kidneys.

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