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Samson College Students Use 3D Printer to Create Innovative Patient Resources

By Jenna Pizzi

3D Printed ProjectsChallenged to make anything that could improve a patient’s life, an interprofessional group of first-year students from Samson College used the college’s new 3D printer to create a wide array of items ranging from an acupuncture ball to a right-angled spoon.

“The purpose of the 3D activity was to introduce the students to an emerging technology that can be applied to the healthcare field and to instill students' collaboration on interprofessional healthcare teams,” said Karin Richards, PhD, chair of the department of kinesiology.

Some students in the health science seminar HS110 took inspiration from everyday problems, like having to carry in several grocery bags at once, while others were more complex, like creating a prosthetic hand.

3D Printed Hand“The outline for this project was very broad, so it opened a door to endless possibilities,” said Charles Chirackal DPT’23, whose group created the prosthetic hand. “With the 3D printing technology at our disposal, our thought process was that if we could think of any idea, it could become a reality.”

“Our invention not only would help both people with motor issues and individuals who struggle to carry many shopping bags at once,” said AnnMarie Kuriako DPT’23, who worked with Zuleika Alvarado DrOT’23 and Brynn Solder DPT’23.  Solder said she drew inspiration for the project from helping her mom carry in grocery bags and dreading making multiple trips.

For Chirackal and his teammates, Rutu Patel PAS’21 and Olivia Zakaria DPT’23, the challenge came, not in printing the pieces, but preparing them and assembling them to a functional hand. While the hand was printed smaller than they had initially imagined it would be, Chirackal and the team determined that it would be appropriate for a child, who would be more frequently replacing their prosthesis.

3D printed things displayed on a table“Since each patient who needs a prosthesis would require a prosthetic that would meet their own needs, it is important that we, as future healthcare professionals, examine our patients and fully understand their conditions so that we may help them in building the proper prosthesis in accordance with their conditions,” he said.

Learning how to be innovative to solve a patient’s problem is an important skill to future healthcare providers, said Kuriako.

“I also learned the power of effective team work and hope to apply this valuable skill to my future health profession,” she said. “Working with students from different programs allowed for a great mix of different ideas, perspectives and mindsets to come together to create something great.”

Categories: News, Samson College of Health Sciences, Students, Faculty, Department of Physical Therapy, Department of Kinesiology, Department of Occupational Therapy, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, Health Science