The idea of affordable prosthetics was an alien concept a couple of decades ago – let alone customizable prosthetics that are tailored to each individual wearer. Open Bionics, a United Kingdom-based prosthetics company has taken the lead in producing prosthetics that are not only state of the art, but also within the budget of the average person. It is a revolution that could change the lives of children and adults with missing arms.
The “Hero Arm” is the latest 3D printed prosthetic to make the news. However, the major difference between this model and the others we have seen is its affordability. It is not a product that would cost tens of thousands of dollars. It is typical for a patient to pay through the roof for a prosthetic arm. Some are lucky enough to have good insurance coverage, while most have to put up the majority of the money out of pocket.
Affordable and Customizable
The Hero Arm is not only making waves for its affordability but the features that it offers. It is a prosthetic that doctors can tailor to the individual patient’s needs. The company ensures the customization by taking a scan of each patient’s arm through a tablet. That allows for the printing of the Hero Arm with the necessary dimensions and features that are required for the specific patient.
Older individuals with prosthetics probably remember the days when it took weeks or months before a customized prosthetic was delivered. Not only did those devices cost a lot more money, but they were difficult and time consuming to produce. Open Bionics is able to get the Hero Arm customized and printed within 40 hours!
The arm is usable on individuals who are eight years old and above. It is a revolutionary breakthrough in upper limb prosthetics for both children and adults. Whether it is through an accident or illness, losing an arm can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Whether they are 10 or 50 years old, they have to adjust to a new reality, where they do not have the use of both arms.
The Hero Arm can change all that. While it is not a like-for-like replacement for a human arm, it is very advanced in its design and capabilities. Moreover, with a market price of less than $7,000, it is a lot cheaper than some of the other 3D printed prosthetics on the market. It is still a sizeable investment, but the customizability means that it is the type of prosthetic arm that would last the individual a long time.
Unique Customization Options
Not only is the arm tailored to each person’s limbs, but it is also customizable based on tastes and seasons. The company offers swappable covers that users can place on their arm, which have different colors, designs, and patterns. It may sound frivolous, but children and young adults will be delighted at such a feature. It makes having a prosthetic arm feel a little less scary, especially if kids are able to pick their favorite color and design.
The Hero Arm is one of the few 3D printed prosthetics on the market that is both comfortable and easily maneuverable. It is less than a kg in weight, provides feedback through lights, sounds and vibration, and has a posable wrist the wearer can rotate 180 degrees. There is even a posable thumb that makes it easy to pick up objects with the arm.
It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Hero Arm will change thousands of lives for the better. So many young children, teenagers and adults found themselves unable to afford a prosthetic arm. Even with 3D printing, the options seemed out of their price range. $7,000 is a lot of money, but it is incredibly affordable given the usual prices of top quality prosthetics.