Maryland Native’s Hand Disease Inspires Global 3-D Printing Challenge

By Brittany Britto
The Baltimore Sun

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The “Within Reach design challenge”, is calling on professional designers, summer camps, classrooms and makerspaces around the world to design 3-D printed devices that can benefit people who have limited use of their hands.

The Baltimore Sun

When Pasadena, Md., native Brandy Leigh Scott was 7 years old, she brought home a school photo that made her parents notice something peculiar, an unusual circle indented her ring finger’s knuckle.

“My dad thought it was the picture until he looked at my hand,” said Scott, now 41.

They took her to the doctor and learned that Scott’s fingers were receding into her palm. In the years following, she would spend Christmas breaks with her hands wrapped in gauze after surgeries while doctors worked to find a diagnosis.

Around age 10, Scott was diagnosed with Dupuytren’s contracture, a rare disease that thickens the tissue of the palm, causing the fingers, usually starting with the ring and pinky fingers, to fold into the hand and stiffen, limiting their use. In Scott’s case, the disease, which most often affects European men age 50 and older in at least one or two fingers, is rare and aggressive.

Her hands would gradually close into fists, which meant giving up softball because she could no longer throw the ball, and guitar because she couldn’t pick the strings. Now a resident of the Los Angeles area, Scott has lived with limited use of her hands for most of her life.

“It’s all I’ve really known,” she said.

But a new contest is challenging the world to change that.

Scott was the inspiration for the Within Reach design challenge, organized by Orange County, Calif.-based MatterHackers, a 3-D printer retailer and software developer.

Running from July 11 to Sept. 6, the contest calls upon professional designers, summer camps, classrooms and makerspaces around the world to design 3-D printed devices that can benefit people who have limited use of their hands. More than 50 designs were submitted as of Wednesday, according to Pinshape, the Canadian3-D printing community and website where entries are submitted.

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