Right Turn: 3D prosthetics provide a helping hand

Author: Stacey Johnson, 06/12/15

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Anthony Atala MD, of Wake Forest University, is a pioneer in the field of regenerative medicine and recognized for his trailblazing and visionary work in tissue engineering and building printable organs. Signals has somehow missed out on featuring his work, despite acknowledging the efforts of other researchers in printing 3D organs here and here. Dr. Atala has publicly asked whether it’s possible to create new organs rather than transplant existing ones and he’s clearly determined (and able) to make that happen.

While 3D organs are not yet ready for the clinic, 3D printing is having an impact in other areas. Last month, cosmetics giant L’Oreal announced a partnership with Organovo to produce 3D printed skin. Though L’Oreal has had an artificial skin program for many years, this new partnership is meant to enhance the reproducibility of their artificial tissues—and, most importantly, avoid animal testing.

In the meantime, 3D printing is already changing the lives of children requiring prosthetic limbs.

Aria is an energetic five-year-old who doesn’t let her missing right hand slow her down. In fact, when asked about her hand, she refers to it as her “lucky fin” and moves on. Her positive attitude will likely take her far in life, but that doesn’t mean that her situation can’t be improved.

Enter e-NABLE, “a global network of passionate volunteers using 3D printing to give the world a ‘helping hand.’” e-NABLE connected Aria’s family with a group of grade 8 students in Wisconsin who designed and built a prosthetic hand for the young girl and Frozen fan (by no means the only one). Saving her family a considerable amount of money (each prosthetic hand will need to be refitted as Aria grows) and offering science and robotics students an exciting challenge and worthwhile experience, the project benefits everyone involved. Watch the video for the full story, including a look at Dr. Atala’s amazing work.

Our regular feature, Right Turn, appears every Friday and we invite you to submit your own blog to info(at)ccrm.ca. We encourage you to be creative and use the right (!) side of your brain. We dare you to make us laugh! Right Turn features cartoons, photos, videos and other content to amuse, educate and encourage discussion.

As always, we welcome your feedback in the comment section.

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Stacey Johnson

Stacey Johnson

For almost 20 years, Stacey has been providing strategic communications counsel to government, corporate, technology and health organizations. Prior to that, Stacey was at the CTV Television Network, first as a researcher, then as a story producer for “Goldhawk Fights Back,” a special ombudsman segment that aired weekly on the National News and Canada AM. Before joining CCRM as the Director, Communications and Marketing, Stacey was the Director of Communications for the Canadian Arthritis Network. Stacey is editor of Signals. You can follow Stacey on Twitter @msstaceyerin.
Stacey Johnson

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