Technology has changed how we live in so many bold and dramatic ways that it’s easy to overlook the little things that technology has altered in our everyday lives.
There are hundreds of thousands of children living in the US who were either born with missing limbs or lost them due to a disease, unfortunate accident or other reason. Most of these families cannot afford a prosthetic limb for their child—which can cost as high as $40,000—and they need to be replaced frequently as the child grows. With the advent of the 3-D printer, a small grass roots movement of people donating their time and use of their (very expensive) printers has changed the lives of many of these children, with major organizations coming on board.
In Florida, a group of students at University of Central Florida created a prosthetic arm for a 6 year old boy who was born without the limb. It cost $350 and the team of students published the blueprints online for anyone to use—free. In September of last year Johns Hopkins Medicine hosted an event for 3-D printing enthusiasts who provide kids with affordable and durable prosthetic hands to help them meet families who can benefit from their work as well as share specs with others who create free prosthetic limbs.
Not moved enough? In a recent high profile example from a viral internet video (prep the tissues), Albert Manero, a college student who builds and donates 3-D printed bionic limbs, and the bionic man himself, Robert Downey Jr, teamed up to present an Iron Man arm to a 7 year old who was born with a partially developed right arm.
Yes, technology has changed the world in so many obvious ways. But thanks to passionate, creative men and women who dedicate their time and resources to helping those in need, technology is also enriching the lives of hundreds and hopefully thousands of children a year in ways that are easy to overlook. If you know someone that needs a bionic limb or if you’d like to donate your time and 3-D printer, please check out the e-Nable Organization page for more information.
- On April 1, 2015