Medi-snippets: 3D print technology for artificial limbs | Sunday Observer

Medi-snippets: 3D print technology for artificial limbs

The nation’s first 3D printing studio at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka ( NHSL) will slash the production time of artificial limbs drastically, officials from the Ministry of Health told the Sunday Observer, adding that the new technology besides speeding up the process of manufacture would help produce artificial limbs that identically match the actual limbs.

The first ever 3D printing studio set up at the Accident Service Unit of the NHSL was launched by the Minister of Health, Nutrition & Indigenous Medicine Dr Rajitha Seneratne on Sept. 11. Health officials said only the scanner of the studio is imported while all other parts, particularly, software has been created locally. The machine could also design certain other medical devices.

Hostel Warden of the Friend – in - Need Society’s Artificial Limbs Project ( Colombo branch ) Bandula Wijesinghe said that up to now under the Jaipur Foot Project run by the Centre, about 30,000 custom fitted artificial limbs, both above and below the knee prostheses, artificial hands, etc had been manufactured. He said most of the hostel inmates had been successfully rehabilitated. He said four orthopaedic surgeons visited the hostel regularly to examine the patients and also screen them for non communicable and communicable diseases. Asked from where most patients came and their age group, he said 80% were from rural areas and many are below 60 years, including young persons who have met with motor cycle accidents and tri shaw drivers who have lost a limb in road accidents.

While welcoming the news of the 3D print studio at the NHSL he admitted that it was the first time he was being informed of this through our paper. “As our centre is currently using Plaster of Paris to make the moulds for artificial limbs, which takes around three weeks or more, speeding up the process of manufacture to just three hours as reported in the media, would be very beneficial to patients coming from distant places such as Nawalapitiya, Balangoda, Kuliyapitiya, Kegalle, and Kandy.”, he said.

Knowledge of First Aid in the public, very low

Studies by various organisations reveal that public response to day to day accidents and emergency situations is distressingly low a spokesperson for the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society told the Sunday Observer.

World Red Cross Day was observed on September 14 with several programs set up across the country through the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, a humanitarian volunteer organisation affiliated to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in over 190 countries since 2000. Sri Lanka Red Cross Society sources said the recent surge in road, rail and domestic accidents as well as suicides and bomb explosions such as the recent Easter Sunday bomb attacks had underlined the importance of raising awareness among people on First Aid. According to local hospital reports, they said the number of accidents had trebled in the past few decades with persons of all ages being affected. An instructor told the Sunday Observer on grounds of anonymity that dog bites, bone fractures, poisoning, choking, burns and snake bites had further aggravated the situation. “If your first aid knowledge is poor it could make the condition of the victim worse and even lead to death. Hence, it is important that we should learn first aid before such incidents occur,” the official said, adding that while Emergency First Aid is provided in ambulances it is equally important for the public to know how to deal with such situations while waiting for such transport..

Red Cross Society sources emphasised the importance of making First Aid education compulsory in schools and said that first aid training should be made compulsory to get or renew a driving licence in order to provide first aid to road users who are at high risk due to the sharp rise in reckless and drunken drivers.

Elderly women, most vulnerable population in Sri Lanka

A Geriatric specialist told the Sunday Observer that due to women now outliving men, an increasing number of elderly women would be spending most of their remaining years in poor health. “We need more geriatric nurses, geriatric wards in hospitals, and home care nursing to help these women. The state must give this prior attention as our hospitals have more women being admitted daily, for fractures from falls, injuries from home accidents, and dementia” he said.

The urgent need to give attention to the health of elderly women in Sri Lanka was underlined at a high panelled discussion at the International Conference on Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine dubbed the “Silver Age Conference” held in Colombo recently, which revealed that elderly women constituted the most vulnerable community gender wise, in the geriatric community in Sri Lanka. Convened by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) it revealed that women above 80 years constituted a phenomenon called ‘feminisation of ageing’ and was linked to several issues including health, and socio economic issues.

Health Ministry officials contacted by the Sunday Observer said steps were already being taken towards creating an age friendly environment for aging Lankan women across all barriers of race religion and creed. 

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