3D Printing - The Future for Prosthetic Hands

27 Sep 2017


It is estimated that 200 Australian babies are born each year with mid-hand or total hand birth defects. In addition, around 290 Australians lose all or part of their hand through accidents, disease or tumours annually.

As the recipient of a prestigious Churchill Fellowship sponsored by the Jack Brockhoff Foundation, Associate Professor Lisa O’Brien will travel across the world to inform the development of 3D printed prosthetic hands.

“This Churchill Fellowship will contribute to the development of 3D printed prosthetic hands that are comfortable, practical, useful, and visually appealing to those who need them and improve the quality of life for Australians with congenital hand differences or acquired hand loss giving them the ability to participate in leisure, sport, education and work,” said Dr O’Brien.

Lisa has over thirty years of experience working as an occupational therapist, the last fifteen in hand rehabilitation. Through her volunteer work with Interplast Australia and New Zealand to provide important surgical and therapy support to developing nations, Lisa can see a clear need for inexpensive and easily produced prosthetic hands to improve quality of life.

Visiting the USA, Brazil, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Lisa will observe cutting-edge design and fabrication methods for 3D printing prosthetic hands from experts in this rapidly developing field.

Lisa’s goal is to apply these methods to Australian production to make restoring function in people without a full hand quicker and more affordable.

“Australian health volunteers working with people with hand defects in developing countries will also welcome use of this technology, as it will allow affordable, accessible, and readily customisable prostheses that can be assembled and repaired with minimal training and inexpensive materials,” Lisa said.

“Over the last 20 years, the Jack Brockhoff Foundation has sponsored Churchill Fellowships to inspire people from Victoria working in the area of social disadvantage including disability or in health and medical practice to strive for excellence for the benefit of the community,” said Churchill Trust CEO Adam Davey.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established in 1965 to honour the memory of Sir Winston Churchill, and fulfil his wish to offer people from all walks of life, the opportunity to travel overseas to gain new knowledge and insights and bring that back to Australia to positively impact our communities and society at large.

“This award is for anyone who feels they have exhausted alternatives within Australia and would like to see what other countries are doing successfully in a similar space to inspire new ideas, innovation, and excellence,” said Mr Davey.

No prescribed qualifications are required in order to apply for a Churchill Fellowship and the subject of the proposed project is limitless provided a benefit to Australia is evident and a willingness to share the knowledge gained with Australia is displayed.

For the full list of 2017 Churchill Fellows visit https://www.churchilltrust.com.au/fellows/

See where a Churchill Fellowship can take you…apply from 1 February 2018


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