WU students, WUIMIS lab create prosthetic arm for teenage girl

Prosthetic armSydney Kendall received a new, functional prosthetic arm through the work of (from l-r) Washington University engineering student Nabeel Chowdhury, WUIMIS staff scientist Nick Thompson and Washington University engineering student Savannah Est.Sydney Kendall, a 14-year-old Chesterfield girl, is excited about blazing a trail in the use of 3D printing and biomedical engineering to manufacture functional, inexpensive prosthetic arms.

Sydney, who lost her right forearm in a boating accident when she was six years old, has various kinds of prosthetic arms for different functions such as one that allows her to ride a bike and one worn strictly for appearance. In the past two years, Washington University biomedical engineering students have combined technology with 3D printing to give her a pink prosthetic arm – allowing her to throw a ball, move a computer mouse and perform other tasks – and a blue one that further expands her range of motion.

Engineering students Savannah Est and Nabeel Chowdhury worked with the Washington University Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgery (WUIMIS) Lab to print this year’s version at the cost of about $250, a fraction of what a standard prosthetic costs. Using myoelectric technology with electrodes that read the electrical pulse when her arm muscle contracts in different ways, Sydney can flex her arm or hand, open or close fingers, open or close the thumb, or twist the wrist.

“Sydney feels privileged to be chosen by her doctor (Washington University orthopedic surgeon Charles Goldfarb, MD, at Shriners Hospital) to be a part of this process,” says her mother Beth.

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