3D printed “magic arms” makes arm movement possible for 2-year old, Emma
Little Emma Lavelle was born with a genetic disorder, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which causes stiff joints and very underdeveloped muscles – meaning Emma would never be strong enough to lift or use her arms.
Enter the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX), created by Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. The device was a combination of hinged metal bars and resistance bands that together could prop up the underdeveloped arms of children like Emma. The benefit? The WREX would allow children to finally be able to hold up and move their arms independently. Playtime and feeding were now possible. As luck would have it, Emma’s mom was present at a conference where members of the research and design team were giving a presentation, demonstrating its uses. In the demonstration, a boy with underdeveloped arms was able to use his arms with the support of the WREX.
Could this be the solution they were looking for?
However, after discussing and meeting Emma and her parents, the Nemours team found that their WREX device was far too big and heavy for the small, two year old girl. It was also designed for use with a wheelchair, and Emma could walk on her own.
The solution: their Stratasys 3D printer. They normally used the printer to make prototypes of their designs, this time, the printer would be used to make the real thing. And what a success! Not only could the parts be customized for Emma’s size, but the new WREX was now light enough for Emma to walk around with and to use. Playtime and feeding became possible, and most of all, she could now hug her mom.
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