Research, Technology & engineering

Engineers give a girl a hand

A CITRIS Invention Lab team uses 3D-printing technology to create a prosthetic "super hand" for an 8-year-old

Sophie checks out her super hand. (Photo by Adriel Olmos/CITRIS)

Life-changing technology can often come at a price that keeps it out of reach for many people, but a project to develop a 3D-printed prosthetic hand for a child is providing engineers at UC Berkeley a chance to change that.

Born with symbrachydactyly, Sophie doesn’t have fully developed finger bones in her left hand. But with the help of a CITRIS Invention Lab team, she is the new user of a 3D-printed super hand. (Video by Adriel Olmos/CITRIS)

The mission for the researchers at the CITRIS Invention Lab is to help an 8-year-old girl who is eager to conquer the monkey bars.

That girl is Sophie, daughter to Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley. Sophie was born with symbrachydactyly, a condition in which the finger bones fail to fully develop in utero. It left Sophie with four partial fingers on her left hand, hindering her ability to grip the monkey bars tightly enough to hold her body weight.

In search of a solution, Koenig connected with Chris Myers, manager of the Invention Lab, who put the call out for engineers interested in working with Sophie. Daniel Lim jumped at the chance. Lim had just earned his master’s degree from the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering.

Read about their effort to make Sophie a “super hand” in the fall 2015 issue of Berkeley Engineer.