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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rico teen develops prosthetic hand prototype

Ninth-grader Lorena Pachiardi has created and developed a prototype of a low-cost prosthetic hand on a 3D printer.

By The Star Staff

Ninth-grader Lorena Pachiardi has created and developed a prototype of a low-cost prosthetic hand on a three-dimensional (3D) printer.

The project was part of the nonprofit organization Ciencia Puerto Rico’s (CienciaPR) “Seeds of Triumph” program, which promotes STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education for girls in seventh to ninth grade from public and private schools and homeschoolers around the island.

Pachiardi, who will receive her STEM Ambassador title for completing the project, said the idea arose when she saw international news about the war in Ukraine, where a network of volunteers requested low-cost prostheses using a 3D printer for the thousands of children, young people and adults who have suffered injuries to a limb.

“... I began to look for information and research about the e-NABLE community, an open community worldwide where people can collaborate by designing prosthetic hands or arms and printing them three-dimensionally (3D), and I decided to carry out this project focused on engineering and technology in order to impact communities of children, youth and adults with this need,” the student said.

Notably, the prototype of the prosthesis designed and developed by Pachiardi is much lighter, biodegradable and cheaper than metal prostheses.

“The prototype is really functional for daily use; it can hold any object that is not very heavy and allows, for example, a child to pick up a bottle of water, ride a bicycle and perform different activities or tasks of their day-to-day,” the student said.

Pachiardi said that when the idea for the project began to materialize, she was interested in finding a person who needed a prosthetic hand, and that was when she met an athlete with functional diversity named Lorraine, who trained in taekwondo in a town in western Puerto Rico. When she saw Lorraine’s particular need, she began to develop a second prototype of a prosthesis with the athlete’s measurements and that is currently in process and development. Pachiardi expressed confidence that she will be able to complete it soon.

The young inventor said her desire was to pursue a project that would have an impact on the community of people with some functional diversity, and that would awaken the desire of other female students to be interested in STEM disciplines as an alternative study or professional career. To do this, Pachiardi made a descriptive video of the prototype of the 3D prosthetic hand that she designed and presented through the social networks of the Caribbean Girl Scouts Council in order to reach other girls and the community in general.

In her process of designing and developing the prosthesis prototype, Lorena had the guidance, support and mentorship of Dr. Abraham Schwartz, along with a specialist in 3D technology, Ricardo Nieves, both from the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine’s Biomedical Innovation Center.

She also had the support and guidance of several scientists in the field of STEM disciplines who are part of a group of mentors in the “Seeds of Triumph” program, among other collaborators.

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