It seems clear to me that 3D printed myoelectric prostheses are the future for upper extremity prosthetics in all age group but especially for kids. These prosthetics can be customized, are developed/ fabricated quickly, can be replaced for a low price, and have so much potential. I am hoping and expecting real progress over the next five years. We have been working on this concept for several years, initially supported by biomedical engineering students (BME 401) at Washington University. My previous blog entries noted HERE show some of the work we have done. This work also led to a scientific publication HERE.
I have thoroughly enjoyed another opportunity to mentor senior biomedical engineering students at Washington University. I say mentored which suggests that I was the teacher but, in reality, I am pretty sure they taught me much more than I taught them. So, this Fall, I worked with Ilan Palte and Stephen Yoffie on their project to address a specific problem we have seen in kids. Such a pleasure as these two super bright pre-medical students developed with and carried this project.
The idea is based on this identified need. When younger patients try to use a myoelectric prosthetic, it may be difficult for them to develop the controlled muscle firing needed for best use of the prosthetic. Basically, the prosthetic requires them to use and hone muscles which honestly just have not done much for them prior to this ‘need’. The biomedical engineering project has been to develop a tool, in this case a game, to teach anyone better control of muscle firing and muscle control as well as increase muscle endurance. In 2018, a game best captures the attention and imagination of most, especially kids. So with a little biomedical engineering know-how which includes 3D printing and programming skill, I wanted to share are two teasers on what has been developed (early). We hope and plan for this project to continue with refinement over time into something really easy and fun to use. But the first go around has shown real potential! There are three different games to help kids train muscles for most effective functional use of 3D printed myoelectric prostheses. Two of the games are shown below (a bit hard to see- sorry).
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