How about that arm? How about that hand? Hailey Dawson uses 3D-printed hand to throw out first pitch at World Series game
Jen Booton | Sport Techie
It was a Saturday in Houston, and a small girl with a robotic hand was walking onto the field to throw a pitch in front of thousands of cheering fans packed into Minute Maid Park.
Hailey Dawson, a 7-year-old girl born with a rare disease called Poland Syndrome that causes birth defects in one out of every 200,000 births, stood halfway between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, a few feet from Houston Astros second baseman José Altuve, and lobbed a ball with a 3D-printed hand that was designed by researchers at UNLV and printed by Stratasys 3D.
The ceremonial pitch kicked off Game 4 of the World Series between the Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers. But it carried significant personal meaning for Dawson and her family, who have been attempting to have Hailey throw first pitches for all 30 MLB teams as part of an effort to raise awareness about birth defects and the affordable solutions, such as 3D printing, that enable young kids to enjoy prosthetics.
— Play Ball (@PlayBall) October 29, 2017
Hailey was born without the three middle fingers of her dominant right hand. The more affordable nature of 3D printing versus traditional manufacturing techniques enabled Hailey to be fitted with a mechanical hand at a young age, rather than having to wait until she was fully grown and then pay for an expensive prosthetic.
“Doctors told Hailey’s mother, Yong Dawson, that when Hailey grew up, she could eventually be fitted with a custom prosthetic hand,” Stratasys 3D said in a statement. “But such hands can cost more than $25,000 with traditional production methods, so it’s an exorbitant sum for most children, who would need increasingly larger prosthetics as they grow.”
As Hailey grows, her prosthetic hand design can easily be scaled up and 3D printed to fit her. The designs are free to the public, so anyone can download them for free and print one using the Stratasys system.
“I want people to know they can get help from someone who understands 3D printing,” said Yong Dawson. “A hand can be built for under $2,000, and maybe as cheaply as $200. It’s the perfect solution for children, who could out-grow several prosthetic hands before they stop growing.”
This was Hailey’s third major league pitch, following pitches at a Baltimore Orioles game in August 2015 and at a Washington Nationals game earlier this season. The press she received this past baseball season are what ultimately led her to the Game 4 World Series pitch.
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