Michael Peirone, COO of the Victoria Hand Project, holds up a 3D-printed hand, which a new grant will fund for dispersal throughout North America. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

VIDEO: $1M grant allows Victoria Hand Project to offer low-cost prosthetics

The UVic-based group will now offer 3D-printed arm prosthetics and scoliosis braces to North America

A new grant to a team at the University of Victoria will allow rural communities in North America to have access 3D-printed prosthetics and braces.

The Victoria Hand Project (VHP) won a $1 million grant from the 2019 TD Ready Challenge. Since 2015, the VHP has provided low-cost, 3D-printed prosthetics to 130 people around the world with stations in Uganda, Egypt, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti and Cambodia.

VHP has two models of hands: a functional hand that can open and close if the wearer moves their shoulders and an aesthetic hand that appears more natural.

In July, the VHP also began printing braces for people with scoliosis in Nepal, a congenital spinal condition which affects three in 100 children.

ALSO READ: 3D printers make Victoria Hand Project a reality

Now, the options will be put forward to 200 amputees and 160 children with scoliosis in North America.

“By leveraging new technologies and engineering design, along with our clinical partnerships, we are able to create health care technology that is accessible for many people who normally cannot afford this care,” said Nick Dechev, executive director of the VHP.

The 3D-printing technology pares down the costs for prosthetics and braces to a fraction of their normal expense. A prosthetic hand or brace can cost thousands, but a VHP hand costs $80, while a brace costs $150.

“Surprisingly scoliosis braces are not covered by Canadian health care, and in the US if you don’t have insurance it’s not covered either, so there’s actually a huge need in Canada and the US,” Dechev said.

ALSO READ: Two-legged B.C. dog gets prosthetic leg

The 3D scanning and printing technology also helps move things forward quickly, with measuring, fitting and printing taking roughly a day.

Michael Peirone, chief operating officer for the VHP added that printers are stationed locally so that once a prosthetist has seen a patient, communities can make their own hands and braces, and any adjustments can be sent remotely.

“This is really big for us,” Perione said. “We’re really excited because there have been a number of Canadians who have approached us and we’ve tried to help them off the side of our desks but we couldn’t really afford it. Now we can help people across Canada and across the U.S.”

The funding will come through in mid-January. While exact communities have not yet been identified, Dechev said it’s part of the team’s goal to help people in the northern territories.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

University of VictoriaUVic

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conflict expert explains how to talk to people who aren’t social distancing

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

COVID-19: Managing your mental health from isolation

Ministry of Mental Health, Addictions recommends numerous strategies for self-care during pandemic

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

Sunday morning fire damages Victoria gas station

The fire on Fairfield Road caused $75,000 in estimated damages to tires and automotive equipment

‘Better days will return’: Queen Elizabeth delivers message amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Queen said crisis reminds her of her first address during World War II in 1940

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

COVID-19: Hospitals remain safe for childbirth, say Vancouver Island care providers

North Island Hospital has been asked to share its perinatal COVID-19 response plan

Canadian cadets to mark 103rd anniversary of Vimy Ridge April 9 virtually

Idea of Captain Billie Sheridan in Williams Lake, B.C. who wondered what to do in times of COVID-19

B.C. VIEWS: Pandemic shows need for adequate care home staffing

Seniors in B.C. care homes face challenging times

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Most Read