Jacobi Medical Center uses 3D printing for young girl’s prosthetic hand

A young girl has received a new prosthetic hand using some of the latest in 3D printing technology.

Doctors at Jacobi Medical Center created the custom fitting hand.

Yujing He, 13, is now able to move the fingers on her left hand for basic functions after she was fitted with the prosthetic hand, a first for the sprawling city hospital in Morris Park.

He seemed very happy with her new hand, saying she was now going through a period of adjustment.

“I feel more confident and happier to have this new hand,” she said through a translator. “I think it is a miracle that I can try to do some things that I could not do without this hand.”

3D Printing involves molding narrow pieces of plastic together to create a three dimensional image to the specifications created in a computer model, explained a hospital spokesman.

These kinds of prosthetics are ideal for patients who are still growing, because they can be adjusted with relative ease, her doctors said.

The recently completed operation was performed in collaboration with Montefiore’s podiatry department, where one of He’s doctors, Dr. Kyle Silva, works.

Jacobi plastic surgeon and Burn Fellow Dr. Cesar Colasante led that medical center’s part of the effort, and he said he has been working with 3D printing for about 15 years.

Using 3D printing can reduce the cost of a prosthetic hand from thousands of dollars to as little as $30, and adjustments can be made within a day, said Colasante

“She is going to continue growing and she is going to outgrow her prosthesis within a year,” he said, adding that the low cost for the hospital allows it to go ahead with operations much sooner than waiting months for Medicaid to approve a procedure.

“It makes for a more personalized experience,” said Colasante, who also said that the possibilities for using the technology are potentially exponential.

Dr. Silva believes that 3D printing will continue to be important for developing models for pre-surgery planning to better understand the reaction of the body, for medical education or to map out in three dimensions a traumatic brain injury.

This type of printing is getting better and better, with new kinds of plastic becoming available.

“It is fascinating technology,” he said, adding “The technology keeps getting better every day.”

He developed amniotic band syndrome, a condition that previously made it impossible to move her fingers, when she was about three-years-old, her mother, Qiumin Lai, said.

According to her doctors, she is able to fully use her left hand to grip things like water bottles, which was not possible before the surgery.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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