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UIC engineers make a helping hand

May 12 isn’t an ordinary Tuesday for members of UIC’s Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES); it’s Drew Reed’s sixth birthday. Drew, who was born without a right hand or wrist, received a one-of-a-kind birthday gift from the team: a custom-made, 3D-printed prosthetic arm. BMES has worked diligently using a mold of Drew’s “lucky fin” to create three prototypes, each one made out of thousands of stacked, 2D-printed layers. Bioengineering student Samuel Dreyer—the group’s president for the 2015-2016 academic year—heard about a network called e-NABLE that enlists volunteer groups to build 3D-printed prosthetics and matches those groups with kids in need. “I knew right away I needed to get UIC involved,” he said. So he signed up, recruited members of BMES, and shortly thereafter, Drew and the team were matched. Kids like Drew, who have this type of rare birth defect, rely on the help of e-NABLE volunteers like these UIC students “because most insurance companies can’t afford to cover the cost of a traditional, more expensive prosthetic device until an individual is fully grown,” said Dreyer. A 3D-printed prosthetic arm is much different from its traditional counterpart; it’s light-weight, kid-friendly, and low-cost, making it possible to produce and produce again after a growth spurt. The most important aspect of the arm built by BMES is that it’s customized for Drew's needs. The severity of his case makes e-NABLE’s existing open-source templates nonfunctional, since they all require at least 30 degrees of motion in a child’s elbow or wrist to guarantee movement. “This just means we have an opportunity to do something new, and something special for him,” said Dreyer. That includes an inscribed drawing that pays tribute to Drew’s favorite movie, Transformers. Aside from giving Drew a memorable sixth birthday, the group’s ultimate goal is to create a successful design that can be hosted by e-NABLE and released to the public domain to help other kids with cases similar to Drew’s. They’re thinking of calling it the UIC Arm.

Topic revision: r5 - 2015-05-26 - 16:49:13 - Main.ronaldf
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