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Girl Who Loves Dolphins Gifted With 3D Printed Prosthetic Arm

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Ten-year-old Annika Emmert received 3D prosthetic arms when she visited the dolphin "Winter" at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. The dolphin lover came all the way from Southern California to visit the star of the movie "Dolphin's Tale." Little did she know that she will be gifted a new arm.

Actress Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who starred in the movie, placed a cooler next to Annika. The young girl thought it was dolphin food but when she opened it, tears welled her eyes as she saw what was inside. "I was really surprised," said Annika. "I was like, that doesn't look like fish."

Annika was born without part of her right forearm. She donned several prosthetics throughout her life but she was neither comfortable nor able to move freely with those devices. For example, a prosthetic she once wore permitted her to hold and play the guitar but she had to endure pain.

"She worked very hard to use it and didn't tell me she had injured her tendon in her elbow as a result," Annika's mother, KaRon Bryson-Emmert tells CNET's Crave blog. "The weight of the material that was used, and the length beyond her own arm, put so much pressure on her elbow and what we refer to as her wrist."

The newly gifted arm developed through the Stratasys technology has numerous positive features. The 3D arm was created by Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit group from the University of Central Florida headed by students, who generate inexpensive bionic limbs for disabled children, who cannot afford high-cost prosthesis. They add a special touch to the arms by incorporating 3D images. For Annika's arm, the group spent 40 hours printing the 3D images. The beauty of 3D printing is that it allows printing of new and longer hands and fingers as the patient grows, says Albert Manero, executive director of Limbitless. A prosthetic arm costs approximately $350, but Limbitless made the arms without charge.

The event that Annika attended was a showcase of Winter's adventures as it faced challenges and setbacks in its life. When Winter was still a baby, it was found in the middle of a crab trap. The circulation on its tail was impeded severely that it had to be cut. It was eventually given a non-3D prosthetic tail.

Photo: Walter | Flickr

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