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

University of VictoriaUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Invasive mussel monitoring stations detect 10 boats

Boats were headed to Okanagan and Thompson regions

Vandals put Vernon public piano out of play

Downtown instrument destroyed, but public project is not over

Westside wildfire human caused

Blaze started as a house fire and spread to the bush

COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan Correctional Centre, involves 3 staff

Three staff involved in possible exposure, health officials say

Vernon science centre marks 30th with prehistoric addition

Okanagan Science Centre moves in newest guest, seeking name

578 British Columbians currently infected with COVID-19

Seventy-eight new cases confirmed in past 24 hours

Man who drove into music festival crowd sentenced to 14 months in jail

Several people seriously hurt during event held near Princeton

Conservation seizes fawn illegally kept captive in Vancouver Island home

A Comox Valley resident charged and fined under the Wildlife Act

Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

Salmon Arm’s first Bitcoin ATM installed in mall

The kiosk will allow people to buy cryptocurrency or sell it for cash.

Summerland mayor asks for community conversation on racism

Incidents in July prompt calls for dialogue

Summerland working to reopen recreation facilities

Arena and pool are opening, but ball season will not proceed

Surrey man found guilty in West Kelowna killing of common-law spouse

Tejwant Danjou was convicted of second-degree murder in the July 2018 death of Rama Gauravarapu in West Kelowna

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Most Read