When I first learned about 3D printing I thought that it would solve the issue of fitting children with prosthetic arms/hands. I came across your Project Daniel story and see you are well ahead of the game. Amazing, congratulations.
We work with a six year old girl in Vietnam that was born without arms from just below her elbows and also has missing/deformed legs. She is very precocious and we have fitted her with an arm that is currently available in Vietnam which is not very sophisticated, but at least helps her hold a pencil at school.
[Project Daniel] was helpful in showing her Mom that technology is advancing and there are more developments every day that may be suitable for Hoai Thuong. Hoai Thuong was also excited to see others in her situation. When they have only seen the simplest prosthetics it is hard to imagine what may be available.
We had to fight to get Hoai Thuong into the public Kindergarten because the administration thought she would bring down the test scores of the classroom or be a huge burden. She showed them the first day that she was very bright and even a bit too stubbornly independent. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of discrimination against people with disabilities in Vietnam. The Vietnamese still often blame acts in a person’s past lives or ancestors’ bad deeds for being born with a disability.
Have you expanded this project to other countries yet? If not would it be possible to get the technology to Vietnam. Not only would it help little Hoai Thuong, but there are so many children with SE Asia (Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia) who have been injured by unexploded ordnance or born with missing limbs that could benefit from this technology. Hoai Thuong also needs new legs frequently but I am not sure if 3-D printing is strong enough for weight baring limbs.
Thanks for any information/help you can provide in getting 3-D prosthetic arms for some of the children we work with.
Susan Hammond, Executive Director, War Legacies Project Inc.