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

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

Just Posted

Federal justice minister consults with British Columbians on assisted-death law

During a coast-to-coast tour this week, federal Justice Minister David Lametti has… Continue reading

One last blast of winter tonight for the Valley before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

YANA celebrating its 30th annual Big Love Benefit Feb. 28

“The extra touches that the committee has added this year are going to knock some socks off.”

Comox’s Cooke wins Boating BC scholarship

Highland grad is currently studying in VIU’s marine mechanical tech program

Comox hit with record-breaking snowfall amid winter storm

Comox area saw 10 centimetres more snow than previous 70-year-old record

‘Like an ATM’: World’s first biometric opioid-dispensing machine launches in B.C.

First-of-its-kind dispensing machine unveiled in the Downtown Eastside with hopes of curbing overdose deaths

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Horgan cancels event in northern B.C. due to security concerns, says Fraser Lake mayor

The premier will still be visiting the city, but the location and day will not be made public

B.C. landlord sentenced to two years in jail for torching his own rental property

Wei Li was convicted of intentionally lighting his rental property on fire in October 2017

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Most Read