3D sur­prise: 10-year-old girl miss­ing part of limb gifted a pros­thetic arm

The China Post - - LIFE - BY TA­MARA LUSH

When 10-year-old An­nika Em­mert pat­ted Win­ter the dol­phin’s smooth back at the Clear­wa­ter Marine Aquar­ium on Thurs­day, she thought that was the best part of her morn­ing. She was wrong. Cozi Zuehls­dorff, the actress who starred with Win­ter in the “Dol­phin Tale” movies, set a cooler next to An­nika. The girl opened it, think­ing it was dol­phin food.

“I was re­ally sur­prised,” said An­nika, whose eyes welled with tears when she saw what was in­side. “I was like, that doesn’t look like fish.”

In­stead, An­nika — who was born with­out part of her right arm — was shocked to see a cus­tom­made pros­thetic limb, dec­o­rated with bright flow­ers. A bionic limb, if you will, that’s con­trolled by An­nika’s mus­cles and elec­trodes.

The most re­mark­able part: The limb was cre­ated us­ing 3D print­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Lim­bit­less So­lu­tions, an Or­lando-based non­profit run and staffed by Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents, made the limb. The group’s mission is to “print” pros­thetic limbs for chil­dren and to en­cour­age other com­pa­nies and non­prof­its to use the tech­nol­ogy by pro­vid­ing the plans and soft­ware.

Print­ing An­nika’s arm took about 40 hours. Each piece is mod­u­lar: When An­nika grows, she’ll get up­grades in the form of larger parts.

“That’s the beauty of 3D print­ing. You can just print a new, longer fin­ger, a new, longer fore­arm, and we can keep the elec­tron­ics the same,” said Al­bert Manero, Lim­bit­less’ ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor.

The arm costs about US$350 in ma­te­ri­als, but Lim­bit­less gives ev­ery limb away for free.

Be­hind Thurs­day’s event is Win­ter’s real-life tale of over­com­ing ad­ver­sity. In 2005, she was found as a baby tan­gled in a crab trap. Cir­cu­la­tion had been cut off to her tail. She was brought to the aquar­ium but lost the tail. Win­ter was even­tu­ally fit­ted with a pros­thetic tail — though not a 3Dprinted one.

Manero said Anni loves “Dol­phin Tale,” and it made sense for ev­ery­one to meet on the day she re­ceived her new arm. The Em­mert fam­ily flew to Florida from their Cal­i­for­nia home.

“We wanted to do some­thing re­ally spe­cial for Anni,” Manero said.

AP

Brooke Bow­er­sox, right, a Clear­wa­ter Marine Aquar­ium trainer, and 10-year-old An­nika Em­mert of River­side County, Cal­i­for­nia, work with the pros­thetic tail of Win­ter the Dol­phin. Em­mert, a 10-year-old who was born with­out her right arm, re­ceived a 3D-printed bionic limb from a stu­dent-led non­profit at the Uni­ver­sity of Cen­tral Florida.

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