Guest Contributor | July 20, 2015
Andrea Ippolito, Presidential Innovation Fellow at Veterans Affairs
Army Veteran Lisa Marie Wiley is faced with the everyday reality of people staring at her below knee amputation caused by an injury inflicted by an IED in Afghanistan in November 2010. While strong-willed and resilient, Lisa can’t help but feel frustrated that only a handful of the 10,000 prosthetic legs available can meet her specific body type and needs to function and resume her quality of life. As Lisa stated, “if we can land spacecraft on comets, why can’t we build personalized devices for our Nation’s Veterans?” By leveraging the growing movement of 3D printing in healthcare exploding across the US and the world—we can.
While we often think of personalized and precision medicine related to providing the proper dosage of medications based on individual’s genetic information, personal predilections, and environmental context, additive manufacturing or fabrication (often more commonly referred to as 3D printing) offers a new paradigm to design devices based on individual needs and preferences. 3D printing is emerging across healthcare in surgery, patient education, prosthetics, and bioprinting tissue and organs. We’ve seen the power of 3D printing to inspire a global network of volunteers in the eNABLE community to build prosthetic 3D printed hands for over 1500 children missing their fingers or arms below the elbow.
Imagine losing your ability to use a utensil, use a video game controller or even continue a beloved hobby like photography. The Department of Veterans Affairs is aiming to accelerate the development of technologies to improve the quality of life of Veterans and invites all designers, engineers, and problem solvers alike, to the first VA Innovation Creation Series: Prosthetics and Assistive Technology Challenge.