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Seven-year-old boy receives 3D-printed prosthetic hand

Iron Man hand - On March 1 the Helping Hands club at College Heights Secondary School in Guelph presented Jordan Singh, middle, with a 3D-printed, Iron Man-inspired prosthetic hand. Members of the club include, from left, Sawyer Newell, Angus Casey, Jacob Oats and Christiaunna McCormick.  Photo by Jaime Myslik

Seven-year-old boy receives 3D-printed prosthetic hand

GUELPH - Innovative technology and student determination have made it possible for a seven-year-old boy to receive a brand new Iron Man-inspired prosthetic hand.

On March 1 the Helping Hands club at College Heights Secondary School in Guelph presented Jordan Singh, 7, of Kitchener, with a prosthetic hand that was 3D-printed and assembled at the high school.

“I thought that was amazing,” said Jordan’s mother Mellisa.

“I was just very thankful that they even thought of Jordan to team up with him and it’s just a great learning experience.

“It’s pretty awesome.”

The four students of the Helping Hands club, ranging from Grade 10 to 12, worked with University of Guelph biomedical engineering student Jerry Ennett to develop the hand.

Ennett began 3D printing prosthetic limbs about three years ago through his company Taurus 3D. Now, he works with various school boards providing workshops for students and staff.

“It’s kind of the perfect community program,” Ennett said, noting he’s graduating this year so he doesn’t have as much time to complete the process himself.

It was Ennett who introduced the College Heights club to Jordan. Mellisa had learned about Ennett’s company and found him on Facebook to reach out for more information.

“I’ve been always researching because I just want [Jordan] to feel like he can do what he wants to do and anything to help him out,” Mellisa said.

“I don’t find he needs help a lot, but just other things he wants to do like ride a bike or play baseball.”

Jordan was born with a thumb and palm but no fingers. With the prosthetic, the fingers will fold over when he flexes his wrist.

For Jordan, there’s one  thing he wants to do more than anything else with his prosthetic hand.  

“Turn on a light,” he said.

“It’s always weird ... the first thing they do,” Ennett said.

“The first one I ever did ... the first thing she did when she put [the prosthetic] on was steal her mom’s coffee and shake her mom’s hand.

“It was pretty cool. It’s always a pretty neat experience.”

The Iron Man hand is Jordan’s second prosthetic from Ennett, and costs just $25 to print, rather than the thousands it would cost for a more traditional device.

The added benefit is College Heights students are able to give back to the community.

“I feel like it’s a great accomplishment to do something like this, even if it’s just with a school. You don’t really expect schools to do stuff like this,” said club member Christiaunna McCormick (Grade 11).

“So I think it was a really great accomplishment and I’m glad I was a part of it.”

The students decided to give Jordan’s hand a unique theme.

“We were talking to his mother and his mother said he was an Iron Man fan,” McCormick said.

“So we based the colours on Iron Man and then we wanted to go further with it, so we game him a little Iron Man stuff too,” including an Iron Man mask, T-shirt and other mementos.  

Because this was the school’s first prosthetic project, teacher supervisor Aaron Meyer said students were responsible for constructing the hand but teachers assembled the files based on Ennett’s scans and measurements of Jordan’s arm.

Eventually, he said, he hopes students will be able to handle the entire process from start to finish.

“Just getting them to think how to get around problems is probably one of the biggest skills I think the students really need to know how to do,” Meyer said.

Ennett will be working with Jordan for the next few weeks to ensure the hand fits and functions well and the College Heights Helping Hands club is ready for its next project.

“It’s fantastic for them to be able to know that what they’re doing is making a difference; it’s such a boost to their confidence and their ability to function in society,” Meyer said.

“They can go out of this school and know that they’ve made a difference in someone’s life.”

March 9, 2018


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