Helping Hannah: 3D printer brings "Magic Arms" to a four-year-old
Four-year-old Hannah was born with a condition called arthrogryposis, which limits her ability to move her arms on her own due to underdeveloped muscles. Now, with the help of 3D printing, Hannah can lift toys and doing basic things like eating and hugging their loved ones.
Arthrogryposis is usually developed before a baby is born. During her fifth month of pregnancy, Jennifer Mohn was told to prepare for the worst for her unborn daughter.
"They told us to make arrangements for her," said Jennifer Mohn, Hannah's mom.
Baby Hannah Faith survived, but was born with a list of health conditions, including arthrogryposis, a disease that affects muscle strength.
"She was just really unable to move," Jennifer said.
Four years later she's making great strides, thanks in part to 3-d printed arms known as the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton, or WREX developed by Tariq Rahman, PhD, Senior Research Engineer at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del..
Each WREX is constructed of lightweight plastic and rubber bands and can be custom made overnight with the use of a 3D printer. "If you do the geometry right and you put the bands in the correct place, you can get this floating sensation for a kid," said Rahman.
In 2012 Rahman's WREX helped two-year-old Emma to lift her arms up under her own steam. Since their success with Emma's case, the team has printed WREX jackets for more than a dozen other toddlers, one of them is Hannah.
"Without the 3-D printer, we wouldn't be in the position we're in with these younger kids," says Rahman. It's allowing kids like Hannah the ability to move their arms and even flick a rubber band.
"To see her have the ability to reach her arms out, to reach out and grab something is just a really amazing feeling for a mom," Jennifer explained.