Magic Arms for a Special Four Year Old
Thursday, August 9th, 2012
I’ve stepped on my fair share of hard plastic toys. That moment when the incredibly durable plastic digs painfully into the bottom of my foot is usually cause for cursing and possibly crying. Now I’m in tears over that plastic for a different reason, and her name is Emma.
An adorable four year old, Emma was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a condition that affects her joints and muscles, and causes her arms to be extremely weak. So weak that she could barely lift them on her own. In cases like hers, there are prosthetics that can be used to assist in movement, allowing for a greater range of motion. Unfortunately, the size and weight of those prosthetics don’t make them easily manageable, especially for a tiny little girl.
Those working with Emma were inspired to try new technology to better meet her needs. They discovered that they could use a 3-D printer “to create a special harness and fittings out of strong ABS plastic (the same used in LEGO bricks).” The prosthetic was designed, then the various pieces are printed out as plastic parts, to be attached together to form the framework. If a piece breaks, the creator can simply print out a replacement part.
The potential usage for technology like this is amazing, but I’m just as amazed by the story of this one little girl. Watching the video of her as she plays happily, using her “magical arms,” I’m so grateful that these kinds of developments are possible. I’ll never look at those little pieces of plastic the same way again.