“Its looks like someone’s erector set that some kid developed as their eighth-grade science project. It’s incredible the device works so well,” Megan Lavelle said.
“It’s really low tech. It’s a beautiful design,” KraMer said. The 3-D printing technology creates the potential to produce these devices quickly and inexpensively.
The WREX allows Emma to experience a number of things she couldn’t before, her mother said. She can work at an easel or chalkboard, cut with scissors, paste and write. She is now working on being able to brush her teeth and feed herself.
“She is so proud of herself. She is so independent. She says, ‘I can do it,’” Megan Lavelle said.
The independence lets her personality shine through.
“She is happy, cheerful and smart,” her mother said. “She is very girlie. She has a lot of interest in fashion and makeup and baking.”
Video went viral
Last summer, Eric Jenson, owner of Blaine-based Jenson Productions, made a video about Emma for Stratasys (http://www.startribune.com/a2226). Demand for the device spiked after the video went viral on YouTube.
“We have people from all over the country who want to come and get fitted for these,” Rahman said. “We’ve had 150 requests in the last three or four months.”
It takes one to two weeks to custom-make each device, and the hospital can only help patients with the means to travel to Delaware to be fitted.
Jenson, who had worked with KraMer before, showed it to the industrial designer. Now, they’re moving ahead with plans to establish the nonprofit Magic Arms For the World.
KraMer said he’s moved by the intellectual challenge and the emotion that surrounds helping children.
He said the goal is to make the WREX device even lighter and less bulky. Ideally, parents would submit their children’s measurements. The WREX would be shipped to them, and they or caregivers could make minor adjustments to create the right fit.
KraMer and Jenson said they are making this a nonprofit because while hundreds of thousands of disabled children could benefit from it, it’s still considered a niche product in the medical device industry.
“It’s rare enough. There is not enough profit to be found for a big company to come up with a solution. They are looking for mass markets,” Jenson said.
KraMer is talking with local universities to get engineering and business students involved with the project.
They’ll need to raise $860,000 to get the charity up and running.