The Paraguayan nonprofit organization Po in collaboration with Thalmic Labs are using 3D technology to provide MyPo, an advanced type of prosthetic, to low-income people in the country.

According to the co-founder of Po, Eric Dijkhunis, there is a high percentage of limb amputations in the country because of unsafe work conditions and frequent motorcycle accidents. Unfortunately, less than one percent of people who have limb amputations are able to afford a prosthetic. Po claims it can make more than 100 3D printed prosthetics at the cost of one traditional model.

MyPo 3D Printing

3D printed prosthetics have many advantages over traditional ones. 3D printing allows those in need to receive their limb faster and cheaper. Cost is especially challenging for Paraguayans. Just one traditional upper limb prosthetics on average cost between $30,00 to $80,000. Even more problematic is the fact that prosthetics are not a one-time purchase. Prosthetics must be replaced after several years. Also, parents of children with an amputation must buy different prosthetics as the child grows and develops. However, a 3D printed limbs can cost less than $200.

Initially, Po only produced basic 3D printed prosthetics that could be personalized. Patients are encouraged to choose the colors and the design on their model. Recently, Po paired up with the Thalmic Labs to make the MyPo, a 3D printed prosthetics that uses bioelectric technology. The device moves based on bioelectric signals sent from the amputee’s muscles. Additionally, the MyPo can be paired with Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband which allows human movement to control electronic devices. Not only is it functional, but the MyPo is comfortable and easy to use even for those who are not tech savvy. It will be sold at a relatively cheap price and a portion will be subsidized by private donations. They are currently trying to raise $50,000 for their Indiegogo campaign and have already reached $35,000 with 160 donators.

As of November of this year, five people are testing the MyPo. Po-partner organizations are duplicating the MyPo model in Argentina and Brazil. Dijkhunis encourages people in other countries to use this technology, he says “We believe that these technologies applied to social impact are not only disrupting an industry, but are rewriting the rules of the game for the future of prosthetics, and handing the power of innovation to people all around the world.”

Paraguay is not the only country with such a high volume of amputees who cannot afford a prosthetic, but the MyPo model can provide millions around the world an affordable and advanced prosthetic.

Karla Umanzor

Photo: Flickr