Northwell Health, in collaboration with the Plainview, N.Y.-based Composite Prototyping Center (CPC), has made the first 3D-Printed, amphibious, prosthetic leg. The leg, known as â€śThe Fin,â€ť has allowed 33-year-old Marine Corps veteran amputee Dan Lasko to swim again.
â€śThe prosthetic market is characterized by one-size-fits-all solutions,â€ť said Thomas Thornton, senior vice president of Northwell Ventures. â€śFor amputees with a passion for swimming, there was no device out there that was truly amphibious and allowed them to really swim. We made something that didnâ€™t exist and solved a specific problem in a very spectacular way.â€ť
The prosthetic was 3-D printed on a MarkForged printer with carbon fiber enhanced nylon, a material that allows the prosthetic to have both the strength and the flexibility needed to perform up to par. 3-D printing allows prosthetics, like the swim fin, to be quickly designed and manufactured, making it possible to customize add-ons at a reasonable price. And as CBSâ€™ Long Island affiliate reported last month, using composites for the detachable leg offers a number of advantages â€“ mainly corrosion resistance.
â€ś[It is] a fully patient-specific â€¦ swim leg that gives support and propulsion,â€ť said Todd Goldstein, of Northwell Health. â€śBeing that itâ€™s a lot of plastics and carbon fiber, you donâ€™t have any corrosion. This actual swim leg here â€” a lot of the hardware is 25 years old. Itâ€™s been in and out of the Atlantic Ocean. Not a lick of corrosion.â€ť
An estimated 1.9 million people have lost a limb nationwide, a number that is expected to double by 2050, mostly as a result of diabetes, according to the Amputee Coalition of America, a nonprofit organization devoted to advocacy and education. Northwell hopes that fins like the ones for Lasko can be the first step toward helping amputees resume active lifestyles again.