Scientists help Northamptonshire schoolboy write for first time by printing off new hand

Will with his mum and dad
Will with his mum and dad
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An eight-year-old boy from Northamptonshire has a new hand thanks to state-of-the-art 3D printing.

Will Joyner, from Paulerspury, and was born with no fingers on his left hand.

But the University of Bedfordshire has now printed a 3D hand, which he has been able to move using signals from muscles in his arm.

At a recent ground-breaking session, his parents Jo and Andy were able to see Will - who is left-handed - hold a pen for the first time with his left hand and draw a picture.

Will’s mum is over the moon. She said: “It means Will be able to do the same things as other children. He’ll be able to do complex things like tie his laces but also simple activities like holding a drink in one hand and an ice lolly in the other.

“I can’t thank these guys enough. What they’re doing for William is life changing.”

Lecturer David Jazani and Mark Hooper, a technician, were contacted by Mrs Joyner just over a year ago.

Mr Hooper said: “Jo had found a design of a hand online made by scientist in Africa. She wanted to see if we could adapt it.

“It was brilliant but we wanted to see if we could make it less clunky and more usable for a young boy. Also we wanted incorporate the use of William’s thumb to make the hand as dextrous as possible.”

The hand needs to be able to withstand the everyday activities of an eight year old and there are plans to insert lightweight aluminium rods and use titanium hinges.

Mr Jazani said: “This will be an on-going project for the next 12 years while William grows. But we hope with the latest modifications William will be walking out of the University with a fully working hand in the next five to six months.”

Will’s new hand means the muscles of his left arm will be used more, which will help him when he plays football.

Even better for William who is a Reading FC fan, the hand is going to be decked out in blue and white.

“But,” said Mr Jazani, “we’re also going make a flesh-coloured one just in case he changes his mind when he’s older.”