Thai Reach is dedicated to helping anyone in need of low-cost prosthetic and medical devices and other accessibility aids.
3D printing and new designs made with 3D printers and have revolutionized how prosthetic and medical devices are being created. It's lower cost relative to traditional methods makes greater customization possible for people with unique disabilities as well as make it more available for people and hospitals without the means to purchase more traditional prosthetic and medical devices.
Our organization works with International groups such as E-Nable, Unlimbited, local hospitals and government institutions as well as volunteers and donations to provide prosthetic devices using 3D printers and to set up 3D printing labs or "Makerspaces" and to hire and train people to run them.
Initially we are focused on aiding people in and around Northeast Thailand where we are based, but our intent is to connect with and offer assistance to groups with similar goals in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and the world.
Thai Reach was formed in 2017 after we saw first hand how current 3D printed hand designs can help people with Hansen's Disease improve their quality of life. Our first goal for 2018 is to complete a pilot lab we are setting up at Sirindhorn Hospital in Khon Kaen, Thailand to help more of the 400 people who have Hansen's living near there as well as other children and adults with disabilities in that region of about 100,000 people.
LEGACY OF LEPROSY - A PILOT PROJECT IN KHON KAEN, THAILAND WITH SIRINDHORN HOSPITAL
Our pilot project began in October, 2017.
We are helping a community of 400, mostly elderly adults in Khon Kaen, Thailand, who have all contracted Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) when they were younger and the disease was untreatable. Hansen's at it's worst can rob the afflicted of fingers, leaving them with only palms and vestige knuckles.
Our idea was to see if new 3D printed hand designs originally created for children with Amniotic Band Syndrome could be modified for use with adults with Hansen's. Our first three recipients are showing great progress wearing a scaled up version of the Phoenix V2 3D printed hand created by the E-nable community. These hands were printed in the United States and shipped there, but our intent going forward is to set up a 3D printing lab in Sirindhorn Hospital's Prosthetic and Orthotic section, train and provide design assistance as well as provide materials that are not available locally.
In addition to making more 3D printed hands for Hansen's sufferers we also want to create other assistive devices to aid their lives, possibly creating new designs that we intend to share. We also want to share the stories of their lives with the world and try to erase the stigma of this long feared and misunderstood disease.
Additionally, the lab will also be used to help local children and adults with disabilities such as Tui, a boy we are making an Unlimited Arm for to replace his missing left forearm and hand.
Some of the funding for this will be coming from the hospital, but it is a big project in need of technical assistance and we think if it is done right and is successful this pilot lab will inspire more hospitals to create similar programs around Thailand, the region and the world.
In early 2017 we set up the pilot lab and by the end of 2018 have helped over 60 people. We are currently working on making the lab a regional hub for helping people with disabilities.
Changing Hands - An Education Lab proposal for the Sri Sangwan School in Khon Kaen, Thailand
Our secondary goal for 2018-2019 is to set up a "Makerspace" type 3D printing lab at the Sri Sangwan Khon Kaen School for Children with Disabilities.
Our intent is two-fold. One is for the lab to help in making new prosthetic and assistive devices as well as parts for existing devices such as wheel chairs. Two is for vocational training of promising students to become the next inventors as well as the technicians and trainers of future labs.
Studies have shown that a majority of these children will not find work after they graduate, but our experience with this school in the past has shown the great potential of the students to create and a willingness to learn new technologies.
We think the best people to make the next generation of prosthetic devices are the ones who must use them today. An initial investment of about $10,000 for the first lab and further yearly funding in that range for the first four years for teaching and assistance will be needed to make this happen.
CONNECTING HANDS - A PROPOSAL TO MAKE 3D PRINTING MORE ACCESSIBLE
As part of our more focused goals for setting up the pilot and vocational labs we intend to create better teaching tools and methods for making 3D printing more accessible to everyone. In Thailand it means more Thai language manuals, training videos and 3D printer firmware and software with Thai Language support. We think this will allow our pilot labs to branch out to other communities, especially more rural ones far from Hospitals.
In just the past month, since starting Thai Reach, we have been contacted by individuals in far off regions of Thailand through Facebook needing prosthetic devices, but can't travel to a place nearby to have a prosthetic fitted properly along with the necessary physical therapy training. There is already great work being done by E-nable, Project Daniel and other groups to standardize methods to remotely measure and assess people with limb deficiencies, to simplify ways to modify sizes of 3D printed designs and to connect the needed to those who can provide the devices and the proper care. We intend to contribute to this larger network and to advocate for more 3D printing labs and Makerspaces in hospitals and community centers along with the training necessary to make the spaces useful to the needy and the general public.
At the end of 2018 we trained our first students from the Rat Pracha Samasai Institute in Bangkok, home of another larger Hansen's colony and they will set up a lab like ours in 2019