VA Assistive Technology uses 3d printing to help disabilities

VA Innovation Creation Series Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge was launched on May 15th 2015 with the idea to inspire designer’s, makers, Innovators and tinkers to develop personalized technologies to improve care and quality of life for Veterans with disabilities. The Challenge came to an end with a Make-a-thon at Richmond yesterday; some amazing products were developed for the disabled veterans during the course of this challenge.

Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge explores the use of 3d printing

The Challenge was designed around the idea of helping Vetrans and the participants had their task cut out by the guidelines set by the VA Assistive Technology Program and VA Center for Innovation. The Goals were to develop the product that could

  • Improve patient care and quality of life for our Veterans and their supporters.
  • Create an open ecosystem of designs of prosthetics + assistive technologies.
  • Demonstrate the value of rapid prototyping and co-creation to develop personalized technologies for Veterans and infuse practices into everyday healthcare processes.
  • Spread awareness of VA's prosthetics + assistive technologies capabilities.

This noble cause was supported by some of the biggest names in the 3d printing industry, vizStratasys, 3d systems, NIH 3D printing Exchange. Other partners included GE,, Toyota, and Hino Trucks, along with our America Makes Collaborators. Stratasys donate an army of 3d printing that assisted the participants to convert their design ideas to reality. 3D printers that they donated included a Fortus 450mc, three Fortus 250mcs, six uPrints, three Mojos and one MakerBot. They also provided 3D printing experts who could assist participants find the right kind of printer to print their design.

Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge explores the use of 3d printing

Andrea Ippolito, Presidential Innovation Fellow for the VA said “The collaboration with Stratasys is critical to accelerate the development of personalized assistive technologies and prosthetics for differently-abled Veterans. At this event, we can co-create and build designs based on each veteran’s unique needs and obtain their feedback in a very agile, tailored pathway.”

Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge explores the use of 3d printing

Veteran Kim Matthews was among the beneficiaries of the product developed based on the custom-tailored design solution. She was diagnosed with Essential Tremor a condition that affected her ability to perform motor tasks, In other words use her hands. Many designers uploaded their version of an exoskeleton on GrabCAD, the various designs were then tested by Miss Matthews and she gave her design suggestions and inputs to the participants. Her feedback and the design skills of the participants helped her find a customized solution to her needs. She received a glove that could help her stabilize her hand, the glove was made using the Stratasys FDM-based Fortus 3D Printer.

Michael Gaisford, marketing program director for medical solutions at Stratasys was extremely happy with the results of the event, and it resonated when he said "This event is an ideal application of 3D printing to innovate designs to create custom, personalized devices that couldn’t have been made with traditional manufacturing. Stratasys is enabling prosthetics, orthotics, and assistive devices where one can affordably go from scan to design to print in a digital-only environment.”

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