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Paralyzed Woman Walks Again With 3D-Printed Robotic Exoskeleton

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the paging-dr.-hawkins dept.

Medicine 41

Zothecula writes "3D Systems, in collaboration with Ekso Bionics, has created a 3D-printed robotic exoskeleton that has restored the ability to walk in a woman paralyzed from the waist down. The Ekso-Suit was trialled and demonstrated by Amanda Boxtel, who was told by her doctor that she'd never walk again after a skiing accident in 1992. 'Designers from 3D Systems scanned her body, digitizing the contours of her spine, thighs, and shins, a process that helped them mold the robotic suit to her. Then they combined the suit with a set of mechanical actuators and controls made by EksoBionics. ... One problem that the designers faced in this case was that a paralyzed person like Boxtel often can't know that bruising is happening because she can't feel it. That's dangerous, Summit said, because undetected bruises or abrasions can become infected. "So we had to be very careful with creating geometry that would dodge the parts of the body that it had to dodge...[designing] parts that wouldn't impede circulation or cause bruising."'"

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41 comments

Check all the boxes. The perfect article. (3, Funny)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 months ago | (#46290997)

3d printering. Check.

Robotics. Check

Hentai crowd. check

Can she fight crime? (4, Funny)

sandbagger (654585) | about 2 months ago | (#46291011)

'Cause that would be perfect!

Re:Can she fight crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291137)

Dead or alive, you're coming with me!

Re:Can she fight crime? (1)

cygnwolf (601176) | about 2 months ago | (#46294037)

Is it sad the first place I went with this was that show from the 90's M.A.N.T.I.S.?

Re:Can she fight crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46294453)

You're not the only one. I also was reminded of M.A.N.T.I.S.

Re:Can she fight crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291787)

It's a pity her first name wasn't Barbara instead of Amanda. :-)

All she needs now is her own clock tower...

next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291023)

off to elysium!

Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 months ago | (#46291037)

So as luck would have it, I'm one of those unlucky individuals for whom several vertebrae are deteriorating and/or growing bone spurs as I get older.

On thing that's surprised me is that it's not very common for surgeons to simply replace natural, deteriorating vertebrae with custom-shaped artificial ones. I don't know if it's because the surgery would be too complicated, or what.

But given all the problems for which 3D printing seems to be a solution, I'm hoping that it will hasten a fix for my back issues.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (-1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 2 months ago | (#46291111)

This comment lacks backbone.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291331)

Please leave the lame puns for when you're browsing and commenting on reddit. HTH HAND.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (2)

Kilroy_here (1143497) | about 2 months ago | (#46291381)

Well for one thing the spinal cord lies within the lamina of the vertebrae thus preventing an easy replacement of a damaged vertebrae. This alone makes it rather impractical to replace them. As someone who has had the lamina of L-3 - L-5 removed due to having numerous disk herniated I know a little about it. Now if you had suggested 3d printed disks I would think it very possible.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 months ago | (#46291813)

I think it would be possible to design a two-part artificial vertebrum (a doral part and a ventral part) that would press together and form a solid-enough substitute. But how would you get the old deteriorated vertebrum out without damaging the spine and spinal nerves?

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 2 months ago | (#46292171)

I think it would be possible to design a two-part artificial vertebrum (a doral part and a ventral part) that would press together and form a solid-enough substitute.

Almost certainly.

But how would you get the old deteriorated vertebrum out without damaging the spine and spinal nerves?

Don't know, but I'll bet they'll be doing it within five years, and it'll be routine within ten years.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (1)

Duhavid (677874) | about 2 months ago | (#46292215)

"how would you get the old deteriorated vertebrum out without damaging the spine and spinal nerves?"

Leave it in place and have the replacement surround what is being replaced?
Not sure why the fascination with 3d printing here,
I don't imagine that the printer would be small enough to operate within the human body. ( someday... )
Otherwise, who cares how the replacement is formed

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46343957)

I don't imagine that the printer would be small enough to operate within the human body. ( someday... )

I for one welcome our flesh-roasting 3D-printing overlords.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about 2 months ago | (#46291957)

You may want to see if yoga or the like would help. A lot of yoga involves maintaining and improving hip and shoulder flexion to either substitute for decreased/supplement existing range of spinal motion.

Re:Fingers crossed for artificial vertebrae (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 months ago | (#46292979)

So as luck would have it, I'm one of those unlucky individuals for whom several vertebrae are deteriorating and/or growing bone spurs as I get older.

On thing that's surprised me is that it's not very common for surgeons to simply replace natural, deteriorating vertebrae with custom-shaped artificial ones. I don't know if it's because the surgery would be too complicated, or what.

But given all the problems for which 3D printing seems to be a solution, I'm hoping that it will hasten a fix for my back issues.

This is typically done by a large shaped autologous bone graft, although there are both Synex titanium expansion implants and artificial vertebral body of the biomimetic nano-hydroxyapatite/ polyamide 66 (n-HA/PA66) composites in use. Homologous attempt have frequently been unsuccessful due to immune rejection.

It's generally considered an experimental treatment in the U.S., which means that unless you get into a clinical trial, you are stuck paying out of pocket, since most insurance companies don't cover experimental treatments. Given that the biomimetic composite work was reported in the Chinese journal of reparative and reconstructive surgery, medical tourism might also be an option for you. There are also several European clinics that specialize in multilevel ADR, as well as one Australian.

3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (5, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#46291101)

The exoskeleton wasn't 3d printed. A liner for the exoskeleton was.

That's like getting 3d printed floor-mats in your car and saying "3d printed car!"

To obtain the perfect fit for Amanda, our designers used 3D scanning to digitize the contours of Amanda’s thighs, shins and spine and create a personalized three-dimensional base to inform the shape of the required assemblies. Sophisticated mechanical actuators and controls, manufactured and provided by Ekso Bionics, were then integrated with the more fluid components that were 3D printed from the customized scans to create the first ever bespoke suit.

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (2)

BlueKitties (1541613) | about 2 months ago | (#46291233)

This isn't entirely accurate. The 3D printing is important because it enabled a custom tailored design which prevents injury. Hence the "more fluid components" were 3D printed -- They just scan the person, and the computer prints an appropriately fitting shell. This is a major boon, since otherwise engineers would need to create custom molds everytime a new shaped leg came into the office.

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 2 months ago | (#46291295)

I certainly agree that a custom fitted "suit" onto which the robotics attach is important.

Presumably it would have been done before with such arcane voodoo as plaster casts and latex molds.

This is undoubtedly an advance - but nobody 3D printed a robotic exoskeleton.

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46292717)

Presumably it would have been done before with... wait for it...

STRAPS.

http://eksobionics.com/ [eksobionics.com]

This is just another stupid 3D printing story.

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 months ago | (#46291817)

In the old days, they would have done that by molding and sculpting to her contours -- if they had the tech to make the exo suit respond to her commands. That's by far the hardest part.

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291241)

You and your illuminating, factual clarifications.

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291391)

It's more like getting a 3d printed car chasis, and saying "3d printed car!"

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46292027)

No, no one ever 3D printed the chassis of a car, mostly because cars don't use a chassis much anymore... But it's like "3D printed door handle" becomes "3D printed car!" then the mindless sci-fi geeks think we're two weeks away from warp drives....

Re:3d-printed-exoskeleton LINER (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291869)

Finally, someone read past the breathless hype to get to the truth about 99% of the 3D printing bullshit out there. No one 3D printed an exoskeleton here. That's about as truthful as saying a 3D printed cup holder in a car means someone "3D printed a car". That's about as truthful as real estate listings.

Yeah, finally some reason to counter the mindless 3D hype that got me banned from Fark!!!

Also add (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291253)

Fights alien queen to save little girl.

Can we still turn off Beta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291291)

I clicked on a story, I got sent from good site to beta. Can we still turn it off or is it soylent news time?

Re:Can we still turn off Beta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291371)

"is it soylent news time?"
Well, if you haven't registered there yet you missed out on the 1, 2, and 3 digit UIDs, which is another way to say there is some interest. More than a thousand interest, it seems.

Re:Can we still turn off Beta? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46291931)

Well, if you haven't registered there yet you missed out on the 1, 2, and 3 digit UIDs

They're giving them out according to penis size. They're working on guys with four inchers now.

Questions (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 months ago | (#46291819)

1) Can she punch through walls?

2) Can a 50 mm autocannon be mounted anywhere on the exoskeleton?

If the answers to these questions are "yes", I think I might enjoy old age significantly more than I thought I would.

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46293609)

the answer to both is an emphatical no
but you could probably mount a .22 caliber chaingun without much trouble
baby steps

Hybrid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46292271)

Hi, word sense police here. Why is it 'Hybrid'? I can't see anything in the article that would indicate anything 'Hybrid'.
This is just the new BS word we apply to every project to make it seem cool. I bet it's interface is 'Cyber' and the actuators
use 'Nano-technology'!

Re:Hybrid? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 months ago | (#46292511)

Hybrid in that the actuators and other mechanical parts are machined, and the "chassis" if you will, was printed. Basically, the parts that connect to her body are printed, and provide an interface to the machined bits that do the heavy lifting.

So I'm happy with calling it "hybrid". That just means it's not all machined/cast, and not all printed.

This is great but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#46293875)

This is great, but we'll be impressed when she's using it down at her local coffee house, not on stage at a demo with a slightly nervous looking assistant on standby not one meter behind her in case things go horribly wrong.

We've been seeing these "and now they can walk again!" vids for decades now. But seeing this tech in use out in the real world? Not so much.

.
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