New 3D Printing Technology opens doors for amputees and patients with congenital defects.
News and media outlets are all a buzz these days sharing the positive personal stories of individuals with affected limbs that are benefiting from 3D printed hand designs. A new generation of prosthetic hand and arm designs are being provided through open source file sharing and distributed through creative social communities such as E-Nable.
E-Nable volunteers created a prosthetic hand for about $50 using 3D printed parts and largely available hardware. Their goal is to help provide children and adults with low-cost prosthetic and orthotic options previously not available.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing, or “additive manufacturing”, has been around since the 1980s. This technology uses multiple layers of various materials to create a three-dimensional product from a 3D digital file. With commercial printer patents expiring, there is now an increase of relatively economical home printers for personal use and design. For those that need access to printers unavailable to them, there are large web-based printer communities that can print objects or designs and ship them directly to the individual. This approach is currently helping to keep printing costs low because it shares the equipment and material costs among a large group and typically uses a variety of plastics.
The current popular partial-hand designs are for children and young adults with a congenital condition or amputation that results in a partial hand. The fingers are “powered” through the flexing of the wrist and use strings that act as muscles to close the fingers around the desired object. The color choices can be mild to wild depending on the image, imagination or the super hero that the person wants to portray.
While the overall strength of the fingers are limited, the imagination of the young wearer is released in a very powerful way with a new image to their peers and a spark of creativity that can provide a creative outlet for future designs and refinement.
The 3D printing is not limited to just upper extremity either.
Products now include custom printed prosthetic sockets, custom designed socket covers, and sculpted leg fairing covers by UNYQ. While the prosthetic covers have been available for a little while now, the prosthetic sockets designs are still in their infancy. Impact durability appears to be good for the sockets thus far; long-term use and wear issues are still being examined for long-term durability.
3D printing prosthetics is a rapidly emerging technology that will continue to evolve in designs, but even more so in material choices that will allow accelerated prosthetic integration.
With this new influx of designers dabbling in the prosthetic world with new materials, the world’s image of prosthetics is about to enter a new chapter of bio-engineering, sculpting, and image thanks to 3D printing technology.
POSI is eager to embrace the appropriate technologies that can improve the lives of our patients. Not all options are appropriate for everybody as there are usually limitations, but we are open to an honest discussion of how to best restore lost function and desired lifestyle.
POSI Upper Extremity Specialist,
Horsham, PA: 215-328-9111
Marlton, NJ: 856-810-7900
The Genium is the new standard of microprocessor knee technology designed to provide the user with more precise and intuitive adaptations to their movements. The Genium prosthetic knee system utilizes 9 inputs that are provided by strain gauges, gyroscopes, and accelerometers. The information is then processed by a software program that can make decisions for the user regardless of the direction of motion. Unique to the Genium, the wearer can input date to the knee by providing queues, or specific motions, to perform tasks like stepping over obstacles, climbing stairs step over step, and walking backwards. Therefore, the amputee will be able to walk through snow, sand, gravel, or grass with varying terrain without affecting their gait. In addition to these features, the Genium offers 5 modes for activities of the wearer’s choice like cycling, jogging, skiing, inline skating, tennis, etc.
Additional features and benefits of the Genium include:
- Provides optimally timed and calculated autoadaptive swing and stance resistance
- Supports multi‑directional movement, for take quick steps— forwards, backwards, and sideways
- Reduced cognitive effort due to highest degree of intuitive function of their prosthesis
- More natural symmetrical gait, with less stress on the back, the sound side, and the hip on the prosthetic side
- Improved walking on ramps and stairs
- Stand and sit more with increased ease
- More than one activity mode for varied activities such as bicycling or job tasks
The BiOM is the first commercially available foot- ankle system which generates power to emulate the amputee’s own muscle and tendon function. Presently, all other devices require the amputee to power the prosthesis. The BiOM reacts in real-time, sensing positioning of the ankle and terrain changes by analyzing approximately 250 data points per step. At the end of each step, BiOM provides a powered push-off which propels the wearer forward with a 100% energy return. By mimicking functions of calf muscles and Achilles tendon with powered toe off the BiOM enables amputees to walk with the same gait and the same effort as non-amputees—reducing fatigue and pain, improving stability and balance, and improving overall quality of life.
Features and benefits of the BiOM include:
- Rapid and real time accommodation for all terrain types that will improve biomechanics and balance reduce the risk of falling
- Restores normal ankle motion by providing a powered push-off that increases energy return by 100% and mechanical power delivery by 800%, compared to all other commercially-available ankle-foot prostheses
- Reduce intact leg stress after heel strike.
- Allows amputees to stand and move with a greater sense of stability and confidence.
- Perform activities of daily living with a normal amount of metabolic energy exertion.
- Walk at a natural speed by enabling users to increase their self-selected walking speed an average of 23%
Data gathered from www.iwalkpro.com
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POSI prosthetist and technicians are trained and certified by the following manufacturers for use of their products:
Ossur: Touch Bionics, I-Limb
Otto Bock: Bebionic, Michelangelo
100 Brick Road, Suite 315
Marlton, NJ 08053
440 Horsham Road, Suite 2
Horsham, PA 19044