3D-Printed Prosthetics Give South American Children New Hands

Prosthetics technology has come a long way, and with the advent of 3D printers, children with amputations in South America are finally able to receive the treatment they need.

Po is a company in Paraguay that makes customized prosthetics for people who, without their help, would likely never receive anything at all. Po co-founder Eric Dijikhuis describes the country of Paraguay as suffering from widespread low income, which makes their work all the more important.

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(Photo: Tech Crunch)

"[Paraguay is] a country full of amazing people but also a lot of challenges," Dijikhuis said. "There is a high number of amputations per day, upper limbs being a high percentage of them, due to a lack of work safety regulations combined with vulnerable working areas, and a lot of motorcycle accidents."

But Po is working to make a difference. They've already used 3D printers to create over 100 hands being used right now. Currently, the prosthetics are controlled mechanically, but with their partnership with Thalamic Labs, their upcoming MyPo models will use sophisticated electronics.

"At a fraction of the cost, MyPo mirrors the traditional functionality of a prosthetic hand," said Dijkhuis, "including several grips, degrees of freedom, and it can even integrate applications that already exist with the Myo armband."

Dijikhuis is looking to change the prosthetics game with his endeavors, creating affordable prosthetic solutions for those who need them most, and so far he's succeeding.

"Creating and developing Po, we have seen the power of leveraging new technologies, like 3D printing, the Myo armband, and the power of open source," said Dijkhuis. "We believe that these technologies applied to social impact are not only disrupting an industry, but are rewriting the rules of the game for the future of prosthetics, and handing the power of innovation to people all around the world."

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[ H/T Tech Crunch ]