Developing between the 5th and 6th week of pregnancy, AMC is a ruthless disease affecting children. The name of the disease is derived from the Greek meaning for “curved or hooked joints”, and fittingly so, as its symptoms include: twisted, dislocated, lengthened and/or shortened bones and joints, to go along with weakened and deficient muscles.
Luckily, with the aid of Computer Aided Design and 3D printing technology, doctors and engineers designed WREX (Wilmington Robotic EXoskeleton) to suit the exact body size of each young patient, thus allowing for more natural and relatively effortless movements. The wearable set of “magic arms” is made of lightweight plastic enforced by rubber bands that amplify the wearer’s movements.
The most amazing thing about this design is not even that as the children grow, more elements of the WREX can be printed on demand to accommodate their development – without having to wait for replacements – but that use thus far (currently by 15 children) has indicated a potential muscle development, enabled by the device. Currently, researchers are investigating the potential in earlier use with younger children, hoping to prove the benefits in terms of minimizing the symptoms of their disease.
Although the damage done by the skeletal degeneration caused by AMC is permanent and there is no cure, it is truly inspiring to see that there are so many who put so much thought, invention and effort into bettering the lives of others. Only time will tell how this wonderful design evolves and what added benefits it brings, however the good news is that children touched by AMC have a chance at even a glimpse of a happy life.