3D hands help children live “like everybody else”

3D hands help children live “like everybody else”


A Portland-area teen can now use his left hand thanks to 3D printed hand technology from e-NABLE, a network of volunteers dedicated to helping kids get prosthetic hands.

Dawson Riverman, 13, was born without fingers on his left hand. Growing up Riverman questioned why he was different. The pain of having to answer those questions led his mother, Dawn Riverman, through a multiple year journey of trying to find a way for him to use his hand like other kids.

“At about five years old, he came into my room and says, ‘Mom, I want a hand like everyone else. Why won’t God make my hand grow?’” Dawn said. “What do you tell a five-year-old? I sat on the floor and cried with him.”

Thanks to e-NABLE, the family got in touch with a Washington couple who makes 3D printed hands. Dawson got his first hand six months ago and is now on his second.

The company is actually a growing group of over 1500 volunteers.

e-NABLE 3D printed hands help childrenDescribing themselves on their website as “engineers, artists, makers, students, parents, occupational thereapists prosthetists, garage tinkerers, designers, teachers, creatives, philanthropists, writers and many others,” the group dedicates their “free time” to the designing and building of the assistive hand devices for those in need.

Their most recent innovation uses electrical impulses from the bicep muscle to open and close the hand. The hands can be downloaded and 3D printed for less than $50 in materials.

The designs are open source allowing anybody anywhere to download and create the hands for people who need them and so that others can improve the designs and share with the world in a “Pay It Forward” kind of way.

The Riverman family is specifically jumping on board with helping the organization as they team up with Life Christian school of Aloha. The schools hopes to get a 3D printer so that students can make the hands and give them to children around the world on their annual mission trips.

“It’s a great opportunity for Dawson to turn this disability into a profound strength that has a big impact on his world,” said Life Christian School principal Angie Taylor.

Anyone who would like to help in Dawson’s effort can donate through Life Christian School. There are many ways to get involved with e-NABLE.

Read more here.

Newborn saved with 3D printed heart

Newborn saved with 3D printed heart


The latest 3D printing technology offers new hope for the 36,000 U.S. children born every year with congenital heart defects. This summer, physicians utilized a 3D model of a two-week-old infant’s heart to plan and carry out the child’s life-saving surgery.

The successful operation was performed at New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

“In the past we had to stop the heart and look inside to decide what to do,” Dr. Emile Bacha, head of cardiac surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, said in an interview with News Times. “With this technique, it was like we had a road map to guide us. We were able to repair the baby’s heart with one operation.

“The baby’s heart had holes, which are not uncommon with CHD [congenital heart defects], but the heart chambers were also in an unusual formation, rather like a maze,” Bacha said.

The key to this maze was found through 3D printing a replica of the child’s heart from MRI scans. The life-sized, plastic model allowed surgeons to visualize and plan exactly which incisions to make and where – alleviating much of the gamble associated with operating on unusually malformed hearts.

The Connecticut-based non-profit Matthew’s Hearts of Hope funded the procedure.

“This is a game changer for CHD babies with complicated heart anatomy,” Marie Hatcher, founder of Matthew’s Hearts of Hope, told The Independent. “Normally the first time the surgeon sees the heart is when the chest is open, now they have the ability to plan out the surgery ahead of time while looking at a 3D heart.”

Dr. Erle Austin of Kosair Children’s Hospital in Kentucky used a similar 3D printing method to examine his patient’s heart before surgery. The process allowed him to “go through a small incision and work through that and do all of that surgery with a minimum amount of injury to the heart . . . . The child had an excellent recovery and was home after only four days and required no heart medicine.

“If I went in and did surgery, took off the front of the heart and did irreparable damage, the child would not survive,” Austin said in an interview with Wired.

Beyond heart models, the innovation of 3D printing has captivated every corner of the medical field – from replacement ears and hips to dentistry and skull implants. Some estimate the global medical and dental 3D printing industry will grow to be worth approximately $800 million by 2025.