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Medicine Technology

Paralyzed Woman Walks Again With 3D-Printed Robotic Exoskeleton 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the paging-dr.-hawkins dept.
Zothecula writes "3D Systems, in collaboration with Ekso Bionics, has created a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton that has restored the ability to walk in a woman paralyzed from the waist down. The Ekso-Suit was trialled and demonstrated by Amanda Boxtel, who was told by her doctor that she'd never walk again after a skiing accident in 1992. 'Designers from 3D Systems scanned her body, digitizing the contours of her spine, thighs, and shins, a process that helped them mold the robotic suit to her. Then they combined the suit with a set of mechanical actuators and controls made by EksoBionics. ... One problem that the designers faced in this case was that a paralyzed person like Boxtel often can't know that bruising is happening because she can't feel it. That's dangerous, Summit said, because undetected bruises or abrasions can become infected. "So we had to be very careful with creating geometry that would dodge the parts of the body that it had to dodge...[designing] parts that wouldn't impede circulation or cause bruising."'"
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Paralyzed Woman Walks Again With 3D-Printed Robotic Exoskeleton

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  • by DeTech (2589785) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @07:25PM (#46290997)

    3d printering. Check.

    Robotics. Check

    Hentai crowd. check

  • by sandbagger (654585) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @07:26PM (#46291011)

    'Cause that would be perfect!

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @07:30PM (#46291037)

    So as luck would have it, I'm one of those unlucky individuals for whom several vertebrae are deteriorating and/or growing bone spurs as I get older.

    On thing that's surprised me is that it's not very common for surgeons to simply replace natural, deteriorating vertebrae with custom-shaped artificial ones. I don't know if it's because the surgery would be too complicated, or what.

    But given all the problems for which 3D printing seems to be a solution, I'm hoping that it will hasten a fix for my back issues.

    • Well for one thing the spinal cord lies within the lamina of the vertebrae thus preventing an easy replacement of a damaged vertebrae. This alone makes it rather impractical to replace them. As someone who has had the lamina of L-3 - L-5 removed due to having numerous disk herniated I know a little about it. Now if you had suggested 3d printed disks I would think it very possible.
      • by Shavano (2541114)

        I think it would be possible to design a two-part artificial vertebrum (a doral part and a ventral part) that would press together and form a solid-enough substitute. But how would you get the old deteriorated vertebrum out without damaging the spine and spinal nerves?

        • I think it would be possible to design a two-part artificial vertebrum (a doral part and a ventral part) that would press together and form a solid-enough substitute.

          Almost certainly.

          But how would you get the old deteriorated vertebrum out without damaging the spine and spinal nerves?

          Don't know, but I'll bet they'll be doing it within five years, and it'll be routine within ten years.

        • by Duhavid (677874)

          "how would you get the old deteriorated vertebrum out without damaging the spine and spinal nerves?"

          Leave it in place and have the replacement surround what is being replaced?
          Not sure why the fascination with 3d printing here,
          I don't imagine that the printer would be small enough to operate within the human body. ( someday... )
          Otherwise, who cares how the replacement is formed

    • by Krishnoid (984597)
      You may want to see if yoga or the like would help. A lot of yoga involves maintaining and improving hip and shoulder flexion to either substitute for decreased/supplement existing range of spinal motion.
    • by tlambert (566799)

      So as luck would have it, I'm one of those unlucky individuals for whom several vertebrae are deteriorating and/or growing bone spurs as I get older.

      On thing that's surprised me is that it's not very common for surgeons to simply replace natural, deteriorating vertebrae with custom-shaped artificial ones. I don't know if it's because the surgery would be too complicated, or what.

      But given all the problems for which 3D printing seems to be a solution, I'm hoping that it will hasten a fix for my back issues.

      This is typically done by a large shaped autologous bone graft, although there are both Synex titanium expansion implants and artificial vertebral body of the biomimetic nano-hydroxyapatite/ polyamide 66 (n-HA/PA66) composites in use. Homologous attempt have frequently been unsuccessful due to immune rejection.

      It's generally considered an experimental treatment in the U.S., which means that unless you get into a clinical trial, you are stuck paying out of pocket, since most insurance companies don't cover

  • by mythosaz (572040) on Wednesday February 19, 2014 @07:39PM (#46291101)

    The exoskeleton wasn't 3d printed. A liner for the exoskeleton was.

    That's like getting 3d printed floor-mats in your car and saying "3d printed car!"

    To obtain the perfect fit for Amanda, our designers used 3D scanning to digitize the contours of Amanda’s thighs, shins and spine and create a personalized three-dimensional base to inform the shape of the required assemblies. Sophisticated mechanical actuators and controls, manufactured and provided by Ekso Bionics, were then integrated with the more fluid components that were 3D printed from the customized scans to create the first ever bespoke suit.

    • This isn't entirely accurate. The 3D printing is important because it enabled a custom tailored design which prevents injury. Hence the "more fluid components" were 3D printed -- They just scan the person, and the computer prints an appropriately fitting shell. This is a major boon, since otherwise engineers would need to create custom molds everytime a new shaped leg came into the office.
      • by mythosaz (572040)

        I certainly agree that a custom fitted "suit" onto which the robotics attach is important.

        Presumably it would have been done before with such arcane voodoo as plaster casts and latex molds.

        This is undoubtedly an advance - but nobody 3D printed a robotic exoskeleton.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        In the old days, they would have done that by molding and sculpting to her contours -- if they had the tech to make the exo suit respond to her commands. That's by far the hardest part.

  • 1. Everything else
    2. Stories about 3d printers being used for.....3d printing
    3. Bitcoin

  • Thanks to wheels made by aluminium forging.
  • 1) Can she punch through walls?

    2) Can a 50 mm autocannon be mounted anywhere on the exoskeleton?

    If the answers to these questions are "yes", I think I might enjoy old age significantly more than I thought I would.

  • I think elderly would have to enjoy this. Might they need this...!

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