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Donation of "3D-printed hands": a new resource for children with agenesis

08 December 2016

This morning, Les Hôpitaux de Saint-Maurice thanked e-Nable France and the insurance company BNP Paribas Cardif for the gift of 3D-printed hands produced at Cardif Lab’. The new hands can be used for demonstration purposes as part of the occupational therapy sessions provided at CEREFAM (the National Center for Rare Limb Abnormalities and Arthrogryposis) for children with agenesis.

As part of the cooperative partnership between BNP Paribas Cardif and the non-profit e-Nable France, the components needed to assemble twenty hands were 3D-printed at Cardif Lab’, the BNP Paribas Cardif innovation laboratory that promotes the digital innovations developed by the company, and new tech developments with the potential to be useful in tomorrow's insurance world. A series of workshop sessions were then held in this co-creation space to introduce e-Nable France to company staff and offer them the opportunity to help assemble the hands. 

So what is a 3D-printed hand?
These playful devices are designed for use by children aged 4 to 12 suffering from agenesis. Using open-source computer models, these hands can be 3D-printed to the precise measurements of the individual children who will use them. The hands are then produced using basic materials in the colors of their favorite superheroes. This is very much a Do It Yourself project. The "standard" hand is completely mechanical. When the child flexes his or her wrist, fine wires attached to the upper arm cause the fingers and thumb to close and grip. When the wrist is relaxed, the hand opens by itself. But it's not about replacing traditional medical prostheses, but rather expanding the range of technical aids available to these children. Besides, these hands seem to play a primarily social role, because the child who wears them ceases to be someone missing a limb, and becomes someone with a superhero hand in the eyes of their friends.

An innovative research project Les Hôpitaux de Saint-Maurice and e-Nable France recently signed a partnership agreement for a clinical and industrial research protocol to improve the functionality offered by 3D-printed hands. The project focuses on children aged 4 to 12 suffering from transcarpal agenesis of the forearm cared for at CEREFAM, and their parents. In the context of the 3D-printed hand fitting and use, its goals are:
- to evaluate the functional effects (conditions of use, gripping force, holding ability, etc.)
- to evaluate the psychological effects (experience and adoption, contribution to social integration, etc.)
- to propose design improvements for 3D-printed hands


e-Nable France is a non-profit community of volunteers involved in the development of assistance technologies for children with limb agenesis. Its work focuses mainly on the design and free provision of 3D-printed hands. To facilitate that, e-Nable brings together a network of organizations with access to 3D printers (the makers) with the families of children wanting to benefit from these hands.
CEREFAM (the National Center for Rare Limb Abnormalities and Arthrogryposis) is part of the the Children's Aftercare and Rehabilitation Center based at Les Hôpitaux de Saint-Maurice. One of its missions is to develop research into new technologies, devices and prostheses for limb agenesis in children. It contributes to innovative projects with the potential to improve patient quality of life.