3D printed ‘magic arms’ help 4-year-old Emma Lavelle lift her arms, give hugs

Little Emma Lavelle was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, a condition that leaves her joints stiff and muscles underdeveloped. Because of this, she cannot lift her arms without support.

When she's older, she can use a WREX (Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton) to help her lift, control, and use her arms. Unfortunately, the device is too heavy, expensive and large for a growing child.

With 3D printing, however, researchers have been able to create a smaller, lighter, adaptable WREX for children like Emma.

She calls them her "magic arms."

"Without the 3D printer, we would not be in a position we're in with these younger kids, making them a WREX device that can go with them," Tariq Rahman, mechanical engineer and head of pediatric engineering and research at Delaware's Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, says in the video below, adding in an interview with CNET that "3D printing is great because we can make these in a couple of days. With a metal one, machining takes longer."

Emma received her first 3D-printed arms when she was just 2 years old. She's now on her second pair of "magic arms."

Fifteen children are currently using these life-changing arms, CNET reports.