High-tech 3D-printed limbs are providing amputees in the United Arab Emirates with the renewed chance to walk, run and even ride motorcycles.
Twenty-five-year-old Emirati engineer & Paralympic champion Fahad Ali is the first double amputee to receive limbs made with the most advanced 3D-printing technology currently available in the UAE.
Fahad Ali walks, exercises and rides his motorcycle with his custom-made 3D-printed prosthetics
Ali had his legs amputated as a child, and the conventional prosthetics he has used for 16 years would often take up to three months to make. That compares to the quick turnaround time of just three weeks with his new cutting-edge, made-to-measure limbs.
Based on enhanced 3D-scans of the individual patient, sophisticated machines create customized prosthetics which allow the wearer to move with natural and fluid movements.
“It’s something fantastic - for stability, for everything.” says Ali, “I even started to feel like I’m walking on my own legs. There’s such a big, difference between this prosthetic and that prosthetic.”
MORE TO COME FOR 3D-PRINTERS IN THE REGION’S HEALTHCARE SECTOR
At the forefront of the region’s 3D revolution, UAE-based D2M Solutions has been designing and manufacturing 3D printed products for twenty years. It provides products and services to medical communities across the Arab world and the bulk of its customers are based in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE.
According to Jimmy Nicolaides, the firm’s technical manager, dental and orthodontic practitioners are now currently leading demand for printed services.
“Because it is a more mass market, everyone needs work on their teeth,” he says, “So, they utilize 3D printing for the orthodontic side, where they can create clear aligners for every single person.”
3D-printing in orthodontics is at high demand, according to specialists
Whilst the 3D printing industry in the Middle East is still young, some medical professionals believe that organs will be the next big thing.
Some analysts say that by allowing surgeons to practice on three-dimensional replicas of organs before surgery actually takes place, procedures are less invasive. This new medical practice also has the potential to save time in the operating theatre and reduce costs.
Two years ago, doctors at Dubai Hospital performed kidney surgery - on a patient with a tumour - by practicing with a 3D organ prosthetics beforehand. This made it the first hospital in the whole of the MENA region to use a model biological part in such a procedure.
Realistic 3D-printed models of organs are used for trials before complex surgeries
“Having had that explanation - having had that journey mapped out for that surgery - it reduced the surgery from five hours to three hours,” says Dr. Mohammed Al Redha, director of transformation at the Dubai Health Authority. “There was also a two-hour saving on anesthesia and operating theatre time, hence reducing recovery time.”
The global 3D printing sector continues to evolve and the global industry is forecast to be worth US$120 billion by 2020. For its part, Dubai has declared an ambition to become a world class research and development hub for the pioneering technology within the next 12 years.
SOCIAL EYES: PRINTING NEW OPPORTUNITIES
Mohammed and Ahmed from Egypt shared these posts of their low-cost, customized, 3D printed body parts which are helping patients in their homeland and Syria.