When doctors told Amanda Boxtel in the early 1990s that she’d never walk again, they had probably never dreamed of 3-D printing.
Now, the woman who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1992 skiing accident is defying that prediction with the help of a 3D-printed exoskeleton, CNET reports.
The custom-built suit, developed by 3D Systems and EksoBionics, lets Boxtel stand up and walk on her own.
“We had to be very specific with the design so we never had 3D-printed parts bumping into bony prominences, which can lead to abrasions,” Scott Summit, senior director for functional design at 3D Systems, told CNET.
Bruising is a concern because paralyzed people may not be able to tell when a prosthetic is
abrasive. Designers were able to mold the suit, which attaches with Velcro, to Boxtel by using data from a body scan. It fits over the mechanical elements made by EksoBionics, protecting her from bruising and even sweat: the suit lets her skin breathe.
The process of creating the first-of-its-kind suit took three months. Boxtel is one of 10 people testing the new system.
“After years of dreaming about it, I am deeply grateful and thrilled to be making history by walking tall,” Boxtel said in a press release.