There have been some amazing breakthroughs in the medical field in the last couple of decades. Researchers have successfully sequenced the human genome, targeted heart disease better, and advanced HIV treatments. Another achievement has been 3D printing in health care.
This innovation has led to new technology like printable prosthetics for those who have lost limbs. These four benefits of 3D printing prosthetics have saved many lives worldwide and led to advancements in other areas.
1. Increased Affordability
3D printing in health care has changed the industry forever. One of the most significant benefits of 3D printing prosthetics is affordability. Typical prosthetic limbs can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, a price many people cannot afford. Families would have to choose between paying for a prosthetic limb or other necessary bills for that cost.
3D-printed prosthetics are beneficial because they are much cheaper. Making these prosthetics requires fewer resources, so the limbs often cost between $50 to $100 — a fraction of the average prosthetic’s price. 3D printers use design software to craft the prosthetics out of layered material, creating a limb that precisely fits the patient’s need.
2. Worldwide Accessibility
The affordability of 3D-printed prosthetics has led to broader accessibility in countries around the globe. War-torn countries often have citizens living in poverty — they’re among those who need prosthetics but don’t have enough money. In countries like Sudan, guerrilla armies force children into battle, putting them in harm’s way. One of the most dangerous parts of these lands is land mines and other explosives — kids could unknowingly step on one and lose limbs.
3D-printed prosthetics are much easier to produce and are inexpensive, giving these impoverished nations better access to this life-saving technology. An estimated 100 million people worldwide require a prosthetic limb or mobility device, but around 80% do not have these prosthetics. Charitable organizations must make more 3D-printed prosthetics for residents of these countries, as many can’t afford to travel across borders to get the necessary care.
3. Efficient Health Care Processes
Innovations in health care have made the industry more efficient, which has become helpful in dire times like a pandemic. For example, remote patient monitoring (RPM) is an excellent way for healthcare providers to increase patient engagement and monitor them remotely. Patients who stay home reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Getting accreditation for RPM can be challenging, but 3D printers make the process easier. In RPM, medical staff use technology to improve patients’ lives. For example, 3D printers can make wristbands for patients. This Internet of Things (IoT) technology can track patients’ health data, such as their heart rate, body temperature, oxygen saturation, and more.
The device sends the data to software that the health care provider monitors. The program allows medical staff to track many patients simultaneously, increasing employee efficiency. If they see something is wrong, a staff member monitoring the patients can act quickly to take care of them. Patient monitoring and clinical triage procedures are essential requirements for RPM accreditation. These devices can help an organization in its RPM goal.
3D printing helps with the day-to-day tasks of healthcare workers, such as IoT devices. Other uses for 3D printing in health care include preoperative planning. Using a 3D printer helps surgeons prepare for their surgeries by better understanding bodies through magnetic resonance imaging models. Healthcare workers are already under duress, but 3D printing makes their jobs more manageable.
4. Medical Breakthroughs
One of the most significant benefits of 3D printing prosthetics is it has spurred innovations in other areas of health care. 3D printing is a relatively new practice, but it has quickly become a focus for many in the medical industry. If a 3D printer can recreate a person’s arm, foot, legs, and shoulders, what’s next? This technology has become widespread and the applications are only beginning.
Besides prosthetics, 3D printers can make hearing aids, skin for burn victims, crowns for teeth, and more. In the future, experts predict that 3D printing will play a vital role in personalized medicine by creating surgical tools and personalized prescriptions. Companies using this technology could manufacture and distribute medications by 3D printing them.
This procedure could be more cost-effective because a pharmacy could print its drugs on demand, eliminating the need for a pharmaceutical company to distribute them. Streamlining the process would help the pharmacy become more efficient. It would also help healthcare providers with RPM because their patients may comply more with medicinal orders from physicians.
Benefits of 3D Printing Prosthetics
Scientists work every day to develop better medical practices for patients. Whether it’s cancer research, HIV treatment, or nanomedicine, the objective is to create better processes and personalize a patient’s care as much as possible.
One sector researchers have only started is 3D printing in health care. This technology has helped many across the industry achieve medical breakthroughs, including prosthetics. The benefits of 3D printing prosthetics have brought affordability and accessibility to people worldwide who have lost limbs and can’t afford regular prosthetics.