Using 3D Printing for Hand Rehabilitation: Bridging the Gap from Michigan to Ghana

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Improving Access to Rehabilitation Services in Low-to-Middle-Income Countries

Access to quality rehabilitation services is a challenge faced by many individuals in low-to-middle-income countries. One such country is Ghana, where approximately 650,000 people suffer from hand and wrist injuries that significantly impact their daily lives. Shockingly, less than 50% of those in need have access to the rehabilitation care they require. This critical gap in healthcare is not uncommon in many developing nations, where factors such as the cost of medical care, scarcity of specialized equipment, and logistical difficulties hinder individuals from receiving the treatment they need to lead an everyday life.

Recognizing this pressing issue, the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan has developed a groundbreaking solution – the GripForté. This low-cost, 3D printed hand rehabilitation device is designed to have a significant impact on addressing the lack of access to rehabilitation services in Ghana. Without adequate rehabilitation, individuals with hand and wrist injuries face ongoing pain and disability, making it difficult for them to work or engage in everyday activities.

The GripForté is a lightweight and affordable device that weighs just 1.5 lbs (0.7 kg) and costs $14.77 to manufacture. Its design allows patients to strengthen their grip, flexion, and pinch as they continue with hand and wrist rehabilitation. Moreover, the device has interchangeable 3D printed resistance springs, which enable tailored, patient-specific rehabilitation regimes.

The development of the GripForté was made possible through a highly collaborative effort between the University of Michigan and the WDI. A student team from the university’s Mechanical Engineering Department initially conceived the idea and designed an initial prototype. They also sought valuable input from a Ghanaian Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation physician to ensure that the device would meet the specific needs of patients in Ghana. Simultaneously, another team of student interns from WDI conducted a market analysis specific to Ghana, which revealed the staggering number of individuals who suffer from hand and wrist injuries in the country.

While the initial prototype of the GripForté showed promise, it had a few challenges that needed to be addressed. Its manufacturing cost was $1,477 per unit, largely due to its wooden construction, which also made the device heavier. Additionally, the prototype relied on rubber bands for resistance, a material that is not widely available in Ghana. Faced with these limitations, the WDI enlisted the help of aerospace engineers from the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, who used 3D printing technology to redesign the device.

David Sharp, one of the key contributors to the project, played a crucial role in designing a lightweight and affordable prototype. His expertise in aerospace engineering, gained through his work with Professor Anthony Waas and the Waas Research Group, proved invaluable in creating a more accessible version of the GripForté. Through this collaborative and problem-solving approach, the team was able to reduce both the cost and weight of the device, resulting in the current prototype.

As an independent, non-profit research and educational organization dedicated to improving healthcare in low-to-middle-income countries, the WDI spearheads initiatives like the GripForté. Collaborating closely with the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering and healthcare professionals, the WDI develops impactful projects aimed at fostering economic and social prosperity in these nations.

Claire Hogikyan, Vice President of Administration at WDI, leads the team that works closely with the College of Engineering and healthcare professionals to develop such projects. WDI President Paul Clyde acknowledged the importance of their partnership with the university, stating, “The 3D printing area is relatively new to WDI as part of our commercialization efforts to bring ideas from concept to market in LMICS. We value our partnership with U-M College of Engineering – Mechanical and Aerospace – where the concept and prototype for the hand device originated and was further refined.”

WDI, in collaboration with the university’s Global Health Design Initiative, the Aerospace Engineering department, and a doctor in Ghana, is currently iterating on the device’s design. Their goal is to refine the GripForté further and prepare it for commercialization in a Ghanaian rehabilitation facility. The latest prototype, produced using 3D printing technology, is currently undergoing field testing in Ghana. In the future, WDI aims to make the device even more accessible and user-friendly, with a target of reducing the manufacturing cost to

Title: Revolutionizing Healthcare: The Life-Changing Potential of WDI’s GripForté


Advancements in technology have continuously shaped the world we live in, and the healthcare industry is no exception. With limited resources and a constant need for innovation, healthcare providers are always on the lookout for cost-effective and scalable solutions. This is where 3D printing steps in, offering a game-changing opportunity to revolutionize healthcare. Today, we dive into the story of WDI’s GripForté, an incredible device that has the potential to improve lives and make healthcare more accessible to all.

The Birth of the GripForté:

WDI, or World Design Innovations, is a renowned tech company dedicated to finding innovative solutions to pressing global challenges. Their latest creation, the GripForté, is a testament to their commitment. This groundbreaking device not only aims to deliver quality care but also introduces environmentally sustainable practices, reducing both costs and waste.

Innovations and Advantages:

The GripForté is designed with affordability and portability in mind. With a target price under $10 per unit, WDI aims to make this device accessible to healthcare providers in countries with limited resources. Furthermore, by slimming down the device to less than 1 lb (0.45 kg), WDI ensures its portability, enabling healthcare professionals to carry it wherever it’s needed most.

Leveraging the power of 3D printing, WDI plans to streamline the crafting process by producing not only the device itself but also the bolts required for assembly and the springs with increased elasticity. This not only reduces manufacturing costs but also enhances the durability and reliability of the GripForté.

Unleashing Potential:

To further expand the functionality of the GripForté, WDI intends to introduce alternative panels that enable a wider range of exercises. This versatility allows healthcare providers to adjust their treatment plans according to individual patient needs, maximizing the impact of this innovative device.

In countries with limited healthcare resources, the benefits of 3D printing cannot be overstated. It can serve as a catalyst for life-changing innovations by offering flexibility and customization that was previously unimaginable. By equipping healthcare providers with cost-effective tools, 3D printing enables the delivery of quality care to even the most remote areas.

The Greater Good:

WDI’s GripForté perfectly exemplifies how technology can be harnessed for the betterment of society. By leveraging 3D printing and exploring the use of recycled materials like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), WDI not only reduces costs but also contributes to environmental sustainability. In a world where healthcare disparities persist, solutions like the GripForté have the potential to bridge the gap, making quality care accessible to all.


As we delve deeper into the possibilities of 3D printing, it is crucial to recognize the transformative impact it can have on the healthcare landscape. WDI’s GripForté is leading the way, bringing affordable, portable, and customizable healthcare solutions to the forefront. By embracing technology and sustainable practices, we can collectively work towards a healthcare system that leaves no one behind. Let us keep abreast of the latest developments and continue supporting innovative initiatives that aim to change lives for the better.

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