3D Printed Prosthetic Limbs Help Ukrainians Live Normal Lives or Rejoin the Fight
Amidst the daily brutality of life in wartime, one is often forced to look for the silver linings to make a dismal situation a bit brighter. But it is from such tales of bravery and courage in the face of adversity that have brought about an international outpouring of support for the Ukrainian people. Within this space, additive manufacturing has often stepped in to aid the war effort in the form of vehicle repairs and weapons, to civilian aid, and of course, assisting the wounded. Still, the protracted war has left approximately 174,000 sq km (67,182 sq mi) of the Ukrainian countryside littered with hidden landmines and unexploded ordinance. These often lead to the death and maiming of not only soldiers but also civilians who may wander into dangerous areas.
Among other things, this has led to an increase in demand for prosthetic arms and legs, replacements for those who have lost theirs in the conflict. Earlier this year, we reported on a Canadian nonprofit organization known as the Victoria Hand Project and their “Hands for Ukraine” project, which was aimed at raising money for efforts to 3D print prosthetics in Ukraine. Now, a second Canadian organization has donated a set of 3D printers to the Ukrainian aid organization, Unbroken with the aim of 3D printing prosthetics for injured adults and children in Ukraine.
Unbroken is an organization in Ukraine that helps wounded people regain their mobility through prosthetics, surgery, physical rehabilitation training and more. The organization has reported that over five thousand adults and children have lost limbs since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of the country in 2022. The latest 3D printers have been donated by the Canadian Temerty Foundation, created by Jim Temerty, a Ukrainian-Canadian entrepreneur and philanthropist.
After arrival, the printers are currently being set up and run by local operators at the Unbroken site. The inclusion of on-site 3D printers allows the team to cut manufacturing times from three days to as little as eight hours. “We did a lot of tests and are happy with the results,” Explained Kostiantyn Nykypanchuk, one of the 3D printer operators. “We are just beginning, really. We want to build on their capabilities as the war will require a great increase in prostheses production” echoed Dr. Peter Derkach, a Canadian-Ukrainian doctor who assisted with the installation and training.
After the first few successfully 3D printed prosthetics, some of the recipients took part in a charity race in the streets of Kyiv, where they were cheered by crowds of supporters. Dubbed the “world’s longest marathon,” the event was a symbol of hope and pride, while the name served as a stark reminder of the length of time since Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine in 2014. Serhii Yevtushenko, a veteran at the event reported on his experience with his new prosthetic. “I had no problem with my new Canadian leg.” He echoed a sentiment shared by many veterans, which is his desire to get back into the fight and continue to serve and defend his country. For more on this story, you can read it HERE.
What do you think about the options that 3D printing prosthetic limbs in Ukraine for people affected by the war provides? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.
*All photo credits: ANTON SKYBA/THE GLOBE AND MAIL