It may be a beginning of a new dawn for patients needing prosthetic and orthopedic support as 3D printing technology that has being on trial in Madagascar and Togo is near completion.
The study being carried out by Humanity & Inclusion, (formerly Handicap International) began in 2017 and is funded by the Belgian Development Agency.
This orthotics artificial limbs are created using 3D scanners and 3D printers.
Simon Miriel, Manager at Impact 3D said, “It saves us a lot of time. As need be, scans can be sent directly by telephone to the specialist in charge of making the digital orthotic on a 3D printer”.
Patients needing assistive devices like an artificial limb usually face lots of challenges in remote and low-income areas.
Specialized professional services can be scarce, as a result of this, patients have to make do with the little help they can get, with most of them ending up with poorly fitted and poorly made artificial limbs making their lives uncomfortable.
Issabella Urseau, Head of Rehabilitation at Humanity & Inclusion expressed excitement over the [progress made on the initiative thus far, she said “We are excited to move on to phase two of this research. These trials will involve more patients in different locations in order to thoroughly test our methods. 3D printing is unlikely to become the only way of providing prosthetics but we think it could be a great option in certain circumstances”.
HI is currently running the new 3D printing technology trial in Togo, Madagascar, and Syria.
The 3D printing technology involves a small, lightweight 3D scanner which creates a digital mold of the amputated limb. The mold can then be adapted according to the patients’ needs using the computer-modeling software before being sent to a 3D printer. The printer creates thousands of layers of thermoplastic to produce a bespoke socket that corresponds perfectly to the shape of the patient’s amputated limb.
Low and middle-income countries are expected to benefit from the 3D printing solution if it becomes successful.