Health Watch: UCF Creates Bionic Arms For Kids!

ORLANDO, Fla -- Most bionic prosthetics for amputees cost at least $10,000. Pair that with a constantly growing child and most parents of children with congenital limb difference can't even consider a robotic arm. But one team that began at the University of Central Florida is working to change that.

Albert Manero, PhD, President of Limbitless Solutions was tinkering with prosthetics at his kitchen table, when the family of seven-year-old Alex Pring asked for help creating a full bionic arm.

Manero and his fellow engineering students took on the challenge, creating a 3D printed robotic arm for Alex.

Manero shared, "After the first video aired it went all the way around the world. And we started receiving the same information from so many families saying that their child too needed some of that 3D hope."

The non-profit Limbitless Solutions was born, providing 3D printed limbs to 20 patients so far, at no cost to the families, thanks to generous sponsors. Engineers partnered with video designers to develop fun games to train children with their prosthetics. The arms have built-in sensors to move the many hand motors.

"The arms are actually controlled when the children flex their muscles," Manero explained.

That's not the only reason kids are loving their arms.

"They want it to be bold, colorful, creative. It changed the conversation; before, people would come up and ask 'what's wrong with you', and now they change it to,'wow that's such a cool arm where can I get one?" said Mrudula Peddinti, Branding Director at Limbitless Solutions.

High tech arms that are as every bit as unique as the child they've been designed for.

The hardware for each arm costs about one thousand dollars. The goal is to provide 5,000 bionic arms to children in need by 2020. Limbitless Solutions is partnered with Oregon Health and Science University for a new clinical trial. Manero hopes that will lead to FDA approval and insurance coverage in the next year or two. For more information go to https://limbitless-solutions.org/