November 13, 2012
A new concept for a constantly adaptable prosthetic limb might use 3-D printing
Most amputees go through a lot of prosthetics in a lifetime. This can be expensive, especially in the developing world. The Beth Project aims to change that by making a prosthetic that can change along with the human body. FastCompany reports.
The product is aimed particularly at the developing world, where up to 30 million people require prosthetics, according to the World Health Organization.
The issue is not so much about cost--cheap prosthetics exist, and many used ones are donated--but the need for specialists to adjust or replace the sockets. WHO says 180,000 trained staff are needed, and that thereís a current shortage of about 40,000. Outfitting an average prosthetistís clinic, complete with grinders and vacuum formers, costs $70,000, according to Hill, and thatís before you hire personnel to run it.
"Initially, we were thinking about making a cheaper socket, maybe using 3-D printing, or some other advanced manufacturing technique," Hill says. "But then we found out the real problem was the shortage of trained care. The 40,000 figure really jumped out at us.
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