Students use 3D printer to build prosthetic hand for Ottawa boy
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, March 20, 2015 7:44PM EDT
Six-year-old Sebastian Chavarria from Ottawa, Ont., was born with a partially deformed left hand that often left the youngster sitting on the sidelines, unable to ride a bike or play sports with his friends.
But on Friday, thanks to a pair of University of Ottawa engineering students, Sebastian received a new prosthetic hand that has him feeling like a "superhero."
The six-year-old already had a prosthetic, which his family received from Enabling the Future, an online community that creates prosthetics for kids free of charge.
But the device didn’t fit very well, and made it difficult for Sebastian to grasp objects easily.
So Sebastian's mother, Lety Chavarria, reached out to University of Ottawa to see if they could help out.
And two engineering students, Robert Rayson and Shannon Lee, stepped up. The second-year students beat out 70 others in the university's Prosthetic Challenge to create a fully-functional prosthetic for Sebastian.
Their design, created with a 3D printer, cost less than $100 to produce.
"It's very rewarding to see him wearing the hand because it allows us to improve future designs and seeing something you make being used is great too," Rayson told CTV Ottawa.
Hanan Anis, an engineering professor at the University of Ottawa, said that contest proved to be an exciting challenge for the students because they don't often get to see the positive effects of their work.
"People like the fact that they can do something that touches somebody's life, often as engineers we don’t really know the impact of what people are doing," Anis said.
The new prosthetic hand allows Sebastian to use his fingers independently and to effectively grasp objects.
"When he bends his wrist it will bend the strings, which will allow actuation of the fingers and this mechanism … will allow him to use each finger individually with the press of a button," said Shannon Lee.
Sebastian's parents say that their son's new hand is a life changer, and has given him the confidence to get off the sidelines and play with his friends.
"He's going to be able to do simple things and enjoy things that other kids do," Lety said.
"Having a hand like that makes him feel like a superhero," said Sebastian's father, Enrique Chavarria.
"It's really great to see … how happy he is with his hand," he added.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Annie Bergeron-Oliver