Health

College Students Build Bionic Arm for Boy, Costs Less Than $350 (Video)

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A group of University of Central Florida (UCF) aerospace engineering students recently built a bionic arm and hand for a six-year-old boy for less than $350.

Alex Pring, who was born without an arm, demonstrated his new prosthetic limb last Friday in Orlando, Fla. (video below).

"I just flex," Pring told the Sun Sentinel.

Albert Manero, Mateo Alvarez and other engineering students designed the prosthetic arm with just a 3-D printer and some common electronic supplies.

When Pring flexes his upper arm, electrodes relay the voltage from his nerves and move the hand.

Rather than copyright their bionic arm to make money off disabled people as most U.S. corporations would, the UCF students uploaded their design to the web for anyone to download for free.

"Our team feels you should not be profiting off of giving children arms," said Manero. "They'll get used for maybe eight months to a year before they need another one. A regular family wouldn't be able to afford it."

Most bionic arms cost $40,000, but are not covered by health insurance companies for children because the kids grow out of them, reports Salon.com.

Alex's mom Alyson found the UCF students through the volunteer website e-NABLE, which is made up of engineers, inventors, scientists and professors. One of the projects that the group offers are children's prosthetics.

"When [Alex} hugged me, he just didn't let go," said Alyson. "It will help him see future possibilities and make them seem all the more reachable. It's important to us that Alex knows he is perfectly made and that he can do anything he wants."

When Alex grows out of his arm, the UCF students can easily program the 3-D printer to make a larger one for about $20.

"I wanted an arm so people would stop calling my arm names," added Alex. "It hurts all my feelings. Everyone is born different. Everyone is special for what they do."

Sources: Salon.com and Sun Sentinel

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