Dubai: A wheelchair-bound Emirati, who is a double amputee, has become the first to receive 3D-printed transtibial prosthetics in the UAE, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced at a press conference here on Tuesday.
Fahd Mohamad Ali, 25, from Dubai had been wearing wooden prosthetic legs for over 15 years before he received his personalised orange 3D prosthetics.
“It has been simply amazing. These prosthetics have changed the way I walk, run, cycle and do everything else,” he told Gulf News. The initiative to provide Ali with 3D prosthetics was organised by the DHA in partnership with Mediclinic, Mercuris, a German company, and Immensa Technology Labs, a Dubai-based company.
Ali, who works at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) as an assistant engineer, described his new prosthetics as “life-changing”.
“I feel a big difference when I am wearing them in terms of stability, comfort levels and functionality. I can actually feel my toes when I walk, and I feel no different to anyone else. I am very happy to receive this treatment in my own country, and I look at the future with a lot of promise,” he said.
When asked about the colour of his new prosthetics, Ali said, “I chose orange as it is an attractive and positive colour. I even wear shorts now as I am confident and can show off my prosthetics.”
Sebastian Giede, certified orthopaedic prosthetist with Mediclinic, said the field of 3D printing for prosthetic devices allows for high customisation of models that are designed using lightweight and strong materials, based on factors such as body weight, foot size and functionality.
With more than 25 years of experience in the field, Giede said 3D printing also provides great flexibility when it comes to replacement, in comparison to mass produced prosthetics.
“We conducted several 3D scans of the patient’s amputated legs. After that, we used a CAD software programme to design and modify the inner shape of the prosthesis. Then the test socket was 3D printed so that we could use it on the patient to control the size and make changes that will help provide the patient with maximum comfort and functional alignment,” Giede said, explaining the printing process.
He pointed out the next stage in prosthetic 3D printing aims to include a variety of prosthetics that cater to different functionalities such as sports, daily wear, and even models that can fit into high heels.
The test socket and final socket, which is about 40 per cent of the 3D prosthetics, was printed in Dubai, while the rest was provided in Germany.
Dr Mohammad Al Reda, director of the Executive Office for Organisational Transformation at DHA, said the service is open to the public with a future aim to provide full prosthetic 3D printing in Dubai. “The calculations can be taken here in Dubai locally. We use a certain degree of artificial intelligence to calculate the dimensions of what’s remaining of the limb and how to generate the 3D-printed limb for the patient,” he said.