Heartwarming Stuff - from Invention and 3-D Printing!?!
October 3, 2014
I came across the story of five year old Hayley Fraser in the UK press this week. Hayley was born with a congential abnormality, symbrachydactyly, which means she has no fingers on her left hand. Hayley has been fitted with a prosthetic, believed to be the first in the UK, supplied by www.enablingthefuture.org a US charity. You would expect this to be an expensive undertaking. Not a bit of it - the prosthetic hand costs only £50.00!
It all started when two strangers, a US prop maker and a South African carpenter, came together to create a prosthetic hand device for a small child in South Africa. They then freely shared their blueprints to allow others to copy. This has led to a world-wide movement of 'tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference' - as E-nable so aptly put it.
So, how is it done? In Hayley's case, her parents made a plaster cast of her arm which was then sent to the US. At the University of Wisconsin, Professor Frankie Flood engineered and 3-D printed the parts in just a six week turnaround. Now, by flexing and rotating her wrist, Hayley can control the hand's artificial tendons and joints.
There are hundreds of kids around the world who have benefitted from this inexpensive, life-changing, opportunity.
The hands don't look like the usual flesh-coloured, naturalistic norms as the children pick their own colours and designs. Melina Brown, a volunteer at the charity explains: "they make the kids feel really special, rather than being something to be embarassed about."