Grant boosts production of low cost 3D printed hands, back braces to Canadian kids
Victoria Hand Project produces prosthetics at a fraction of the cost of conventional appliances.
VICTORIA – A $1 million grant will help University of Victoria engineers expand production of low-cost 3D-printed prosthetic hands to help amputees in communities where artificial limbs are difficult to get in Canada and the United States.
TD Bank Group’s grant to the university’s non-profit Victoria Hand Project also allows expanded testing of recently developed 3D-printed back braces to help children with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.
Prof. Nick Dechev says conventional scoliosis braces take time to design and cost about $5,000 each, but the lightweight, customized 3D braces can be easily adjusted and cost about $150 each.
The mechanical engineer says about three per cent of children develop scoliosis and 90 per cent of them are girls.
Dechev says the Victoria Hand Project has been helping amputees in seven countries including Guatemala, Ecuador and Uganda, but the expansion targets Yellowknife and Whitehorse in Canada and Chicago and Los Angeles in the U.S.
He says over the next three years the grant program will fit 200 amputees with hand prostheses and 160 children with scoliosis braces.