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Boy receives functioning 3D printed prosthetic hand built at UT Health San Antonio

Congenital issue left boy with crooked thumb, nubs for fingers

SAN ANTONIO – People born without a limb or who have lost a limb typically know that custom prosthetics are not only expensive, but insurance often does not cover them. However, with the advent of 3D printing, changes are coming to the prosthetics industry. A local boy got the gift of a hand he’s always wanted and needed.

Before Tuesday, Noah Gutierrez had never known what it was like to have a functioning right hand. A congenital issue left him at birth with a crooked thumb and nubs for fingers.

University of Texas Health San Antonio’s rehabilitative medicine department, which has a prosthetics/orthotics clinic, jumped in with a 3D printer and special custom computer drawing to make Noah his new hand.

“We typically spend twice as much time with a fitting and several appointments, and we have been able to accomplish a traditional fitting with this 3D hand in one appointment in just a few minutes,” said Jesse Rettele, clinical instructor and medical director of the rehab medicine department at UT Health San Antonio.

 “It’s been a dream of his for a very long time. We kind of got discouraged for a while until we met Jesse,” Gutierrez’s mother said.

The only other person perhaps as happy as Noah about his prosthesis is the man who designed the hand on a computer.

“I've been at the UT Health Science Center for 10 years, and this has probably been the best project I've worked on since I've been here,” said Sam Newman, a programmer analyst at UT Health San Antonio. “Just seeing his face when he saw that, that made my day.”

Noah’s hand only cost $60 to make.

As Noah goes forward with a new grasp on life, there is much more to be accomplished by the youngster.

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