Reaching in the cupboard for a cereal box, grabbing a bowl and pouring milk seem like a simple task for us. But for kids with a missing limb a simple task like this can deem impossible.
The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit organization at the University of Central Florida, have teamed up to start the first US clinical trial of 3D printed bionic arms for children.
They will be recruiting 20 children from ages six to 17, who are born without arms, to wear a bionic arm for one year and measure the effectiveness of the arm, according to KGW8 News. The trials are taking place in hopes of getting FDA approval, which could allow the arms to be covered by insurance.
The bionic arms use motors and smart phone technology through sensors. The electromanography sensors are placed on the lowest muscle groups when a person flexes, and helps open and close the hand. Each hand has silicone fingertips for better grip, and the kids can snap on different arm plate designs, such as a Spiderman themed-plate.
“There is a real psychological-social aspect of having an arm they can customize and which reflects their personality,” said Albert Manero, CEO and co-founder of Limbitless Solutions, according to 3D Printing Industry. “It allows kids to be kids and understand their opportunities are limitless.”
These arms are created by a 3D printer for under $1,000, which is significantly lower than most prosthetic arms. Eventually, Dr. Alber Chi, leader of the trials, hopes to create a program where the bionic arms are free.