Life Video

BY NICOLAS FERNANDES


A heart-warming video shows the rapturous applause for a one-armed girl now able to ride her bike with ease thanks to her new 3D printed prosthetics.

Gracie Marvin, seven, of Springdale, Arkansas, USA, was surprised after arriving at school to be inducted into a ceremony to let her try out the adaptive equipment.   

The adopted girl suffered Symbrachydactyly at birth, in which her right forearm did not fully develop in the womb and has always ridden a bike holding onto one handlebar with the training wheels on.

PIC BY JULIE MARVIN / CATERS NEWS

Her cousin Leah wanted to find a way to make it possible for her to ride more freely.

The ten-year-old pitched the idea for the 3D-printed arm to Steicy Lopez, a 14-year-old from Springdale High School who volunteers at the Environmental and Spatial Technology Initiative.

After experimenting with three different versions of the arm, Steicy delivered the finished product to Gracie’s school for an event in which the first grader rode the modified bike down the hallway.

Her classmates, teachers and family members cheered as she made her way down the corridor with the prosthetic that allows her to grab a hold of the right handlebar. 

Leah said: “Seeing my cousin struggling to try to ride a bike made me want to find a way to help her.

“It felt really good when I saw her riding the bike with the new arm.

PIC BY JULIE MARVIN / CATERS NEWS

“It’s really going to make a difference in her life. I can’t wait to see her being able to ride her bike like everyone else.” 

Julie, 40, Gracie’s mother, said: “She usually rides with training wheels because she can’t balance herself while only holding on to one handlebar.

“Now she’ll be able to sit up straight and fit her nub into the little prosthetic.

“Once she got over the shyness from everyone watching, she was really excited about trying it out. It was amazing watching her ride down the hall.” 

While Steicy has made many 3D-printed arms for demos, this was the first one she made for someone to use. 

It is also believed to be the first 3D-printed prosthetic of its kind.   

PIC BY JULIE MARVIN / CATERS NEWS

Steicy said: “It has been an amazing project. Traditional prosthetic arms can cost as much as $30,000 (21,300 GBP) and a 3D-printed one can be made for $30 to $40. (21 to 29 GBP). 

“I started researching and realized that there were no results for 3D-printed arms made specifically for bikes. The fact that I was able to be the first to do something like this makes it so much more special.

“I loved seeing her ride down the hallway with a big smile on her face and all the other students clapping.” 

While adapting to the modified bike, Gracie is still using her training wheels, but plans to soon take them off. 

Leah said: “It’s going to be really exciting when she’s finally able to ride without them.”

Despite how much the 3D-printed arm has helped her, Gracie has no plans to get one for everyday use.

Julie said: “I’ve shown them to her and she’s not interested. It would just get in the way. It’s amazing how kids just adapt when they’re born like this.”