Young Boy Born Without Hand Plays Catch After Boffins 3D Print Him A Fully Functioning Prosthetic
This is the moment a five-year-old child born missing his left hand plays catch after boffins 3D-printed him a prosthetic that enables him to firmly grip objects.
Rice University partnered with Dr William Pederson from the Texas Children's Hospital in the city of Houston to help five-year-old Adriel Rivas, born lacking his left hand.
In the footage, Adriel can be seen arriving at Rice University in Houston alongside his mum Nancy Rivas, not knowing that he is about to unpack his own fully-functional robotic hand.
Rice said in a statement on 4th November that the project started when Arinze Appio-Riley, who is studying kinesiology, and his sibling Chinwe Appio-Riley, a Rice alumna, co-founded Rice e-Nable.
e-Nable is an online global community of 'Digital Humanitarians' who take advantage of their access to 3D printers to produce low-cost prosthetic limbs for children and adults in need.
The siblings then turned to Rice University lecturer Deirdre Hunter for help with the project and to be their faculty mentor - which she accepted.
When Nancy decided to take her son to Dr William Pederson at the Texas Children's Hospital for advice about prosthetic limbs, the stars aligned, as Pederson had caught wind of the project underway at Rice.
Dr Pederson got in contact with Hunter, telling him that he was working with a boy who needed a prosthetic hand. The team accepted the challenge and Dr Pederson sent over a mould of Adriel's arm.
Hunter said that a major advantage of 3D-printed limbs is that they are quick to make and relatively cheap.
This means that the printed limbs can be enlarged as the user grows and children do not have to worry too much about damaging them.
Appio-Riley, who leads e-Nable at Rice, said that he wanted to make the prosthetic as comfortable as possible because, regardless of how well it works, if it's uncomfortable, Adriel won't wear it.
He explained that the 3D-printed hand has a flexible wrist, and the tensioner strings, connected to the young boy's fingers, allow Adriel to grip objects.
The team met repeatedly with Adriel and adjusted the design of the arm until it was comfortable and effective.
The team and Appio-Riley were very happy with the outcome, as the design is simple yet effective.
Appio-Riley said that it will make it possible for Adriel to pick up fairly heavy objects such as cups or baseballs.
Adriel's mum shed several tears as she watched her son's eyes light up while unwrapping his new hand that even has a Captain America design from the Marvel Superhero Series.
The footage captured the emotional moment Adriel picked up a ball, gripped it tightly in his new hand and threw it to Appio-Riley.
Appio-Riley said that the project was born out of compassion, which is important to students at Rice, who already have several future projects lined up.
Hunter said that as the e-Nable club runs all year round, not just during term time, the clients are not made to wait months to have their prosthetics printed.
She added that as the children often cannot afford long waiting periods, it is important that the 3D printers can be used all year round to produce prosthetic limbs that fundamentally improve their standard of living.
Rice University/NF/Peter Barker