It is always a wonderful treat to share the progress that this global movement of makers has made in the advancement of low cost 3D printable prosthetics over the past 4 years. It is especially exciting when the news comes from some of our founding members who have been with us on this amazing journey since the beginning of this whole e-NABLE adventure.
Limbitless Solutions began as a passion project for Albert Manero in 2013 after he heard an interview podcast on NPR with one of the co-inventors of the first 3D printed e-NABLE hand.
“I heard an interview about the man who invented the first 3D printed mechanical hand, Mr. Ivan Owen. I wanted to be part of the movement so I contacted him and his partner. A year later, a local family approached me to ask if I could build their son Alex a new bionic limb as he does not have part of his arm from the elbow down. Although it had never been done before, I rallied a team together to design a prototype, and in about eight weeks, Alex had a new arm to take to home and school.”
It wasn’t long before his team grew and their vision for these devices was not just to create functional myo-electric arms, but to make them personalized and incorporate art into the design and make their recipients feel like the amazing superhumans they really are.
Dr. Chi moved his practice to OHSU in 2016 from Johns Hopkins where he served as Medical Director of the Targeted Muscle Reinnervation Program and Medical Director of the Physician Assistant Surgical Residency Program since 2010. Dr. Chi is also commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserve.
Now he is collaborating with Limbitless Solutions to create the first clinical trial of bionic arms for children produced on 3D printers. The trials will determine whether Limitbless prosthesis can be certified by the FDA, and covered by insurance.
“It’s my personal aspiration to provide advanced prosthetics to all those in need. Making it affordable and accessible is the goal and I really do believe 3D printing technology is the solution.” – Dr. Albert Chi.
The Limbitless myoelectric arms use muscle-flexing in the remaining portion of a child’s arm that is detected by leads attached to the skin. Impulses generated by these leads then move the bionic arm so as to naturally perform a task.
Produced in the Limbitless UCF lab, an average Limbitless arm costs around $1,000 to make, up to around one tenth of the cost of other functional prosthesis.
The Limbitless clinical trial will be conducted in a group of 20 children aged between 6 and 17 years of ages. Over the course of the year, as the children are trained to use the arms, the arms will be gauged for their ability to help children perform specialized tasks and the impact they have on the quality of life.
Albert Manero, CEO and a co-founder of Limbitless Soltuions concludes, “We hope our work will ultimately allow us to provide prosthetic arms to children at little or no cost. There is a real psychological-social aspect of having an arm they can customize and which reflects their personality. It allows kids to be kids and understand their opportunities are limitless.”
It is our hope that Dr. Albert Chi and Albert and his team at Limbitless will not only succeed in their dream to make these available with FDA approval, but that Albert’s team will continue to “Dream Big” and never stop striving to see what else they can accomplish to make a difference in the world.
Thank you to everyone involved in this amazing story.
You are Enabling The Future for so many.
Not just now… but years from now.