As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the increased availability of 3D printers to healthcare professionals has led to computer aided design playing an important role in the ability of doctors and nurses to help patients. In this post, we’ll talk about more instances of doctors using CAD to provide next-level care.
St. Louis Student to Receive 3D Printed Prosthetic Arm
Thanks to the combined work of Shriners Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, high school student Sydney Kendall will be receiving a prosthetic robot arm, manufactured via 3D printer. This will be the second 3D printed prosthetic given to Kendall, who lost her arm in a boating accident as a child. This new arm, the product of a longstanding collaboration between the Shriners and Washington University, has improved functionality over her previous prosthetics, allowing her to do even more daily tasks than before.
The original idea to use a 3D printer came from Washington University engineering students, who thought that printing a prosthetic based on a CAD file could result in an affordable device that provided even more functionality than the standard prosthetic. As it turns out, they were right: while conventional prosthetics cost around $15,000, Kendall’s new arm costs just over $100.
According to one of the scientists at Washington University, the prosthetics’ designers hope that their affordable prosthetic can made available to underprivileged children who may not have access to standard prostheses. Kendall, on the other hand, says she hopes to become a doctor.
NGO Uses 3D Printed Tools to Supply Impoverished Haiti Maternity Wards
Thanks to the efforts of NGO Field Ready, maternity wards in Haiti now have clean umbilical clamps to use when their patients give birth. When members of Field Ready first arrived, they found that doctors and nurses at a Haiti health clinic were forced to use makeshift tools to clamp the umbilical cords of newborns, due to an inability to obtain proper medical equipment. In order to help Haitian doctors better care for their patients, the NGO set up a 3D printer and used it to manufacture working umbilical clamps, finally giving the Haitian healthcare providers access to the medical tools they needed.
Field Ready has since stopped operations in Haiti, but its influence still survives. Before the NGO’s arrival, medical equipment had to be imported, usually at a cost so high as to make it impossible. Even though the NGO has left, the doctors they trained are still printing their own medical equipment for a fraction of the cost, using the CAD files Field Ready obtained for them.
Brazilian Toucan Receives 3D Printed Beak
Humans aren’t the only one benefiting from 3D printing in healthcare. Thanks to the efforts of Sao Paolo researchers, a toucan in Brazil has been fitted with a replacement, 3D-printed beak. After an accident destroyed the majority of its upper beak, the toucan was unable to eat, and would have starved to death without intervention. To save it, the researchers used photo telemetry to create a CAD model of a functioning toucan beak, and then 3D printed a replacement for the beak the bird had originally lost.
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