Dec. 3, 2019 – Michael Peirone, COO of the Victoria Hand Project, holds up a 3D-printed hand, which a new grant will fund for dispersal throughout North America. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

VIDEO: B.C. researchers to offer low-cost prosthetic hands

The UVic-based group will now offer 3D-printed arm prosthetics and scoliosis braces to North America

A new grant to a team at the University of Victoria will allow rural communities in North America to have access 3D-printed prosthetics and braces.

The Victoria Hand Project (VHP) won a $1 million grant from the 2019 TD Ready Challenge. Since 2015, the VHP has provided low-cost, 3D-printed prosthetics to 130 people around the world with stations in Uganda, Egypt, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti and Cambodia. VHP has two models of hands: a functional hand that can open and close if the wearer moves their shoulders and an aesthetic hand that appears more natural.

In July, the VHP also began printing braces for people with scoliosis in Nepal, a congenital spinal condition which affects three in 100 children.

ALSO READ: 3D printers make Victoria Hand Project a reality

Now, the options will be put forward to 200 amputees and 160 children with scoliosis in North America.

“By leveraging new technologies and engineering design, along with our clinical partnerships, we are able to create health care technology that is accessible for many people who normally cannot afford this care,” said Nick Dechev, executive director of the VHP.

The 3D-printing technology pares down the costs for prosthetics and braces to a fraction of their normal expense; a prosthetic hand or brace can cost thousands, but a VHP hand costs $80, while a brace costs $150.

“Surprisingly scoliosis braces are not covered by Canadian health care, and in the US if you don’t have insurance it’s not covered either, so there’s actually a huge need in Canada and the US,” Dechev said.

ALSO READ: Two-legged B.C. dog gets prosthetic leg

The 3D scanning and printing technology also helps move things forward quickly, with measuring, fitting and printing taking roughly a day.

Michael Peirone, chief operating officer for the VHP added that printers are stationed locally so that once a prosthetist has seen a patient, communities can make their own hands and braces, and any adjustments can be sent remotely.

“This is really big for us,” Perione said. “We’re really excited because there have been a number of Canadians who have approached us and we’ve tried to help them off the side of our desks but we couldn’t really afford it. Now we can help people across Canada and across the U.S.”

The funding will come through in mid-January. While exact communities have not yet been identified, Dechev said it’s part of the team’s goal to help people in the northern territories.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Just Posted

Westbound Highway 1 crash in Langley

Accident occurred just west of 264th Street shortly before 6 a.m.

Gravel resurfacing at Sheffield dog park questioned by Chilliwack dog owners

One person said the best dog park in Chilliwack was ruined by the gravel

LETTER: Shocked by gun ad

When will government ban handguns, letter writer asks

Chilliwack single mother’s trauma therapy dog victim of a hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner Keshia Spenst facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Artist’s NHL charcoal drawing raises money for Starfish Packs

John Perlinger of Chilliwack draws Carey Price and Shea Weber to raise money in Abbotsford

SkyTrain strike averted after ‘eleventh-hour deal’ reached

CUPE 7000 says ‘marathon bargaining session’ led to tentative agreement with BC Rapid Transit

China hints at national security trials for 2 Canadians detained for one year

The two Canadians’ detention is largely seen as retaliation for the arrest of a Huawei exec

B.C. seaplane company set to test the first commercial electronic plane

The plane is powered by a 750 horsepower electric motor

Fireballs to fill the sky Friday for brightest meteor shower of the year

Geminid meteor shower features colourful, brighter, longer shooting stars

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

Hope’s illicit drug death rate rivals Vancouver

Small Fraser Valley district listed among top five per capita in B.C.

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

15-year-old charged following threat to South Surrey high school

Police announce pair of teens arrested for Nov. 14 incident at Elgin Park Secondary

Most Read