5 Year Old Philadelphia Girl, Born Without Fingers, to Receive 3-D Prosthetic Hand Today

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Sweet-faced Emmy Hoffman, 5, was born without fingers on one hand. She is soon to experience, for the first time, what it means to have fingers on both hands. Emmy has been fitted with a prosthesis at Ability Prosthetics in Mechanicsburg, PA, that will not only help her grip the handlebars of her bike, but open a new world of possibilities.

Using 3-D printing technology, the cost of the new hand for Emmy is more than affordable, and far less expensive than a more advanced myoelectric prosthetic. Emmy was born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital condition that can result in limb abnormalities, such as missing fingers. Symbrachydactyly happens in about 1 in 32,0000 births.

“Before you are faced with this situation, ‘normal’ is 10 fingers, 10 toes,” Thomas Hoffman, Emmy’s dad said. “Emmy’s as normal as the other two (Hoffman children). She’s just made differently. One son has red hair, the other has blonde; she has a difference with her fingers. My definition of normal has changed.”

Emmy’s mom, Jocelyn Hoffman, an elementary school teacher, recently published “Emmy’s Amazing Hand,” in part to explain Emmy’s situation to her two older brothers and to the children at Emmy’s school. The book educates and assures, using illustrated images of Emmy doing the same things all kids do.

“The main point of the book is that these kids can do everything,” said Jocelyn Hoffman. “As a parent, that’s hard to picture when they are so tiny.”

Although Emmy can do so much more than people realize, there are some activities, like riding a bike, which will be much easier for her thanks to 3-D printing technology. Ability Prosthetics in Exton has fitted Emmy with her first prosthesis.

As she grows, she will receive newly sized fingers, at a minimal annual cost of a few hundred dollars. The cost of a myoelectric prosthetic is about $10,000 to $20,000, and children would need replacements annually. Her fingers will be attached to a shell that fits over the hand and wrist.

Eric Shoemaker from Ability’s Mechanicsburg office is Emmy’s prosthetist, and a family friend. In Emmy’s case, the prosthesis was created with online sharing designs and software. Ability has printed more than a dozen prostheses in their Frederick, MD office.

“This hand is very simple,” Shoemaker said. “When Emmy flexes her wrist, the cables tighten and flex the fingers so the hand closes, and she will be better able to grasp objects.” 3-D printing is a cost effective and quick way to build a prosthesis, and its use is relatively new in the field of prosthetics.

Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics has been committed to enhancing the health and well being of thousands of patients by providing artificial limbs or braces. Ability has 10 branch offices: Asheville, NC, Raleigh, NC, Charlotte, NC, Greenville SC, Hagerstown, MD, Frederick, MD, Hanover, PA, Mechanicsburg PA, York, PA, and Exton, PA. For more information about Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics, Inc, visit their site.

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