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SWFL boy gets a hand thanks to 3D printing

Posted at 11:04 PM, Nov 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-22 23:07:56-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla., - A young boy is getting a hand, thanks to 3D printing technology.

James Tillman, 8, was born a congenital amputee of his left hand.

But that doesn’t stop him from playing the game he loves.

His mother says he’s been playing baseball since he was 4. Now, he plays on a regular rec league in Southwest Florida. 

“When he was younger, he didn’t want to be different. He wanted to be like everyone else. It’s hard as a parent just because to me, he’s just the way he was designed to be,” said Tina Tillman, James’ mom.

Now, James is working with a team of bioengineers from Florida Gulf Coast University to create a functional hand that’ll allow him to play and do everything things.

They’ve used a 3D printer to print Jimmy a hand that gives him the ability to grip a baseball bat.

 “For someone like James, he’s going to do what he wants to do anyway. It’s just helping him do what he wants to do better,” said Dr. Derek Lura, assistant professor of Bioengineering at FGCU.

The design is not permanent, but it’s cost effective and accessible, Lura says.

 “He’s the client we are using to try and test the usability of the devices so we can distribute them so that way more people have access to a more functional device.”

For kids who play in the Cape Coral Cal Ripken league, it doesn’t matter if they bat with one hand or two.

That’s because for Chris Risola - President of the league, it’s all about the love of the game. 

Risola is publicly welcoming all kids, regardless of their differences, to play in the league.

 “There’s no separate league. We want them to play with their peers, and let them know that all kids are different one way or another,” Risola said.

Risola says his nonprofit organization ‘Let Kids Be Kids’ will be working to sponsor kids like Jimmy who may need a 3D hand.

For more information on the Cal Ripken League of Cape Coral, click here.