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David Janzi, William Joyner, Mark Hooper

Bedfordshire prints new hand for schoolboy

Two University of Bedfordshire academics make eight-year-old William Joyner a new hand using state-of-the-art 3D printing

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | April 12, 2016 | Higher education

Will who attends Paulerspury School in Towcester, and was born with the fingers to his left hand missing, got the chance to try out his new hand made using the University’s 3D printer.

At the University’s computer science laboratory Will was able to move his new hand using signal from muscles in his arm. The ground-breaking session allowed Will’s parents Jo and Andy Joyner to see Will hold a pen for the first time with his left hand and draw a picture. Will is left-handed.

David Jazani Senior Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science and Technology, and Mark Hooper a technician and demonstrator who is currently studying part-time for a PhD in Computer Science at the University, were contacted by Will’s mother just over a year ago.

Mark Hooper explained: “Jo had found a design of a hand online made by scientist in Africa. She wanted to see if we could adapt it. It was brilliant but we wanted to see if we could make it less clunky and more usable for a young boy. Also we wanted incorporate the use of William’s thumb to make the hand as dextrous as possible.”

This will be an on-going project for the next 12 years while William grows. But we hope with the latest modifications William will be walking out of the University with a fully working hand in the next 5 to 6 months

There are still some adaptations to the hand to be made. It needs to be able to withstand the everyday activities of an eight-year-old boy; and with that in mind there are plans to insert lightweight aluminium rods and to use titanium hinges.

David Jazani said: “This will be an on-going project for the next 12 years while William grows. But we hope with the latest modifications William will be walking out of the University with a fully working hand in the next 5 to 6 months.”

Will’s mum is over the moon. She said: “It means Will be able to do the same things as other children. He’ll be able to do complex things like tie his laces but also simple activities like holding a drink in one hand and an ice lolly in the other. I can’t thank these guys enough. What they’re doing for William is life changing.”

The new hand doesn’t just mean Will gains the use of his left hand.  Now that he’s using the muscles down his left hand side they will get more developed and stronger whereas at the moment they’re rarely used. And for a budding footballer like Will that’s very important.

Even better for William who is a Reading FC supporter, the hand is going to be decked out in blue and white tying in with the team’s colours. “But,” said David Jazani “we’re also going make a flesh coloured one just in case he changes his mind when he’s older!”

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