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— Health and Wellbeing

Lego-compatible prosthetic arm lets kids' imaginations run wild

For Colombian designer Carlos Torres, how to best tackle the low self-esteem and social isolation felt by child amputees is about more than finding the the most advanced prosthetic money can buy. His IKO Creative Prosthetic System is aimed at unleashing the creative expression of those with missing limbs, and to do so he's enlisting every child's favorite building blocks. The result is an artificial limb where kids can swap robotic grippers for laser-shooting spaceships whenever the opportunity arises.

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— Science

Shape-memory wire simulates muscle in high-precision artificial hand

Whether they're on robots or amputees, artificial hands tend to be rather complex mechanisms, incorporating numerous motor-driven cables. Engineers from Germany's Saarland University, however, have taken a different approach with their hand. It moves its fingers via shape-memory nickel-titanium alloy wires, bundled together to perform intricate tasks by working like natural muscle fibers. Read More
— Medical

Prosthetic arm takes alternate route to mind control

Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna have developed a technique that allows amputees to control a robotic prosthesis with their mind when there's no neural connection left to exploit between the brain and the part of the hand that remains. Called "bionic reconstruction," the procedure was applied to three patients who were able to successfully use the prosthesis to undertake routine activities, thereby improving their quality of life. Read More
— 3D Printing

Seven life-changing surgeries made possible by 3D printing

Though printing items like chocolate and pizza might be satisfying enough for some, 3D printing still holds a lot of unfulfilled potential. Talk abounds of disrupting manufacturing, changing the face of construction and even building metal components in space. While it is hard not to get a little bit excited by these potentially world-changing advances, there is one domain where 3D printing is already having a real-life impact. Its capacity to produce customized implants and medical devices tailored specifically to a patient's anatomy has seen it open up all kinds of possibilities in the field of medicine, with the year 2014 having turned up one world-first surgery after another. Let's cast our eye over some of the significant, life-changing procedures to emerge in the past year made possible by 3D printing technology. Read More