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Team develops light 3D printing arm for amputee

Shared by Ana Duarte on 2019-09-09 11:33

About the solution

A former technician, he lost all his limbs after having a plate of yusheng, a raw fish dish, which caused Group B Streptococcus infection that landed him in hospital. Because of that, he had his limbs amputee.

Up to 2019, Tan has tried two prosthetic arms so far, but both were not good for the patient. The first came from the United States, but Tan said it was “cartoonish” and not very useful as the grip was slippery and could not grab on to a wash hose he needs to use to take showers. The other pair was built by a volunteer from Hong Kong. Tan liked the grip, but felt that the gadget was too heavy for him, and also he needed someone to help him wear it.

But it all would change when a nonprofit organisation, Tikkun Olam Makers, promoted a makeathon in June 2019, in Singapore. The event had the aim of pairing people with technical skills with patients with special needs who needed solutions for their daily lives.

That’s how Tan met six people (a team called PJ Prosthesis led by Saravana Kumar, who ho has more than a decade’s experience in 3D modelling), who would build him 3D printing arms.

After talking to Tan, to better understand his specific needs, the team realised their main challenge would be creating a prosthetic that would be light and effective at grabbing things.

The result was a 3D printed rotating prosthetic arm that Tan could put on without help, and with a grabbing mechanism that helps him perform household tasks.

Saravana is still working on the prototype, so to make the grip firmer. He also wants to incorporate a locking mechanism that would allow the grabbing attachment to be angled differently for different needs and intends to 3D print the prosthetic. The other team members keep sending feedback to help to improve the device via WhatsApp.

“Previously, I would just spend my time playing games on my computer. I wouldn’t know what to do with my spare time. Now I know what I want to do”, the 3D printing expert explained.

Adapted from: https://bit.ly/2lCoofD

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Saravana Kumar, born in India, in 1978, lives in Singapore and led the PJ Prosthesis makeathon team who developed 3D printing arms to help the amputee Tan Whee Boon with his daily routine. Tan lost his limbs after eating a plate of raw fish in 2015.

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