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3D Printed Legs for Amputees Rock!

  

After a full day of lectures and yoga I attended a talk by Scott Summit from http://www.summitid.com. I was wowed by the beautiful 3D printed prosthetics for amputees. The limbs are created by scanning a person's un-injured body part and then that data is used to print a highly personalized prosthetic limb. Talk about on-demand body parts! 

These prosthetic limbs are printed in high resolution and can be made out of a multitude of materials including metals and plastics. But, for me, what is amazing is the transformative effects of this technology on the mind and body of the wearer. By scanning the other leg and printing out an almost exact replica, the prosthetic restores body symmetry. This visual symmetry improves the amputee’s sense of self.

Imagine, if you will, the wind blowing on an amputee’s legs today while he/she is wearing pants. It would be obvious which leg is the fake one; however, with this new 3D printed method, the legs would ideally be the same size, shape, and width. The new legs also allows the person to wear the same size shoes on both feet. Think about what a difference this makes on a person's self esteem and personal identity. 

Scott mentioned how one of his clients no longer felt uncomfortable about his fake leg, instead people would crowd around him and in some cases be jealous of it.

After the talk, everyone ran up to take pictures with the sample "legs" and we all were astonished at the beauty and strength. I particularly like the fact you can make part of the leg interchangeable with other materials and add tattoos and art. (See the Flickr slideshow below) 

If you want more information, there is an EXCELLENT article on this technology on CNET here: http://news.cnet.com/cutting-edge/?keyword=prosthetic