The Future Is Limbitless: UCF Creates Bionic Arms For Kids!


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Most bionic prosthetics for amputees cost at least $10,000. Pair that with a constantly growing child and most parents of children with congenital limb difference can’t even consider a robotic arm. But one team that began at the University of Central Florida is working to change that.

Albert Manero, PhD, President of Limbitless Solutions was tinkering with prosthetics at his kitchen table, when the family of seven-year-old Alex Pring asked for help creating a full bionic arm.

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Manero and his fellow engineering students took on the challenge, creating a 3D printed robotic arm for Alex.

Manero shared, “After the first video aired it went all the way around the world. And we started receiving the same information from so many families saying that their child too needed some of that 3D hope.”

The non-profit Limbitless Solutions was born, providing 3D printed limbs to 20 patients so far, at no cost to the families, thanks to generous sponsors. Engineers partnered with video designers to develop fun games to train children with their prosthetics. The arms have built-in sensors to move the many hand motors.

“The arms are actually controlled when the children flex their muscles,” Manero explained.

That’s not the only reason kids are loving their arms.

“They want it to be bold, colorful, creative. It changed the conversation; before, people would come up and ask ‘what’s wrong with you’, and now they change it to,‘wow that’s such a cool arm where can I get one?” said Mrudula Peddinti, Branding Director at Limbitless Solutions.

High tech arms that are as every bit as unique as the child they’ve been designed for.

The hardware for each arm costs about one thousand dollars. The goal is to provide 5,000 bionic arms to children in need by 2020. Limbitless Solutions is partnered with Oregon Health and Science University for a new clinical trial. Manero hopes that will lead to FDA approval and insurance coverage in the next year or two. For more information go to

Contributors to this news report include: Hayley Hudson, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:       MB #4564

BACKGROUND: Any kind of problem with how an arm or leg develops in the fetus can be classified as a congenital limb defect. In some cases, the limb has mild abnormalities, while in other cases it fails to develop at all. Symptoms of congenital limb differences can vary widely based on the nature of the condition. They can range from minor problems to very severe disabilities that can interfere with hand function or the ability to walk. A combination of genetic defects, environmental factors like chemicals or tobacco, smoke, or medications may all play a role in the formation of a congenital difference.  Rehabilitation, physical therapy, braces, splints, surgery, and prosthetic/orthotic fitting can help people with congenital limb differences live the most fulfilling life possible.


3D PRINTED ARMS: Albert Manero, PhD, President of Limbitless Solutions and his team created a 3D printed robotic arm for children with congenital limb difference. He said, “We started working with children who had congenital limb difference because we found that they had the least amount of access available for a type of functional and cosmetic prosthetic device. One of the challenges is that before the ACA being born with a congenital limb difference was just considered a pre-existing condition, which makes things quite difficult. Coupled with high costs, the insurance companies weren’t as likely to be going to reimburse a device that has to be replaced potentially every 18 months or as fast as a child can outgrow them. And you can imagine that it was deferred until they were maybe 18 years old, normally.”

(Source: Albert Manero, PhD)

CLINICAL TRIAL: A clinical trial is underway to make FDA approval and insurance coverage an option. Manero explained, “We first partnered with Oregon Health and Science University which is in Portland, Oregon. They’re one of the premier medical institutions on the West Coast. And their primary investigator Dr. Albert Chi is really quarterbacking this effort. They’ve approved the first pilot program which will be our first 20 kids in the program. They will receive one of the newest bionic arms that we can make. Then we’ll go through an assessment period over the course of a year to able to assess both the quality of life impact as well as the effectiveness of the arm for them.”

(Source: Albert Manero, PhD)


Zenaida Kotala, PR



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