PGH Pioneers the Use of 3D Printed Prosthesis

The Department of Orthopedics Prosthetics and Orthotics Section with the PGH Department of Rehabilitation Medicine has partnered with Instalimb Inc. and Japan International Cooperation System to bring the new technology of 3D printable prosthetics to the country.


“This endeavor is consistent with UP Manila’s mission of being in the forefront of innovations that will impact the lives of our patients,” stated Chancellor Carmencita D. Padilla during the Sofia Inciong-Paciano Professorial Chair Lecture, entitled, “3D Printed Prosthesis in the Philippines: Demand Dilemma Direction”, held on 29 January 2019 at the UP Manila Museum of a History of Ideas.

The event was attended by representatives from Mapua University, De La Salle University, Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center, the Philippine Orthopedic Center, San Juan De Dios Hospital, National Council on Disability Affairs, Employees Compensation Commission, and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).

“I understand the value of the project and we’d like to move ahead and engage as many hospitals as possible so that we can generate the data that will make a recommendation for the coverage and benefits package of PhilHealth,” Chancellor Padilla said.

“We need a customized version for every patient. It’s not a one limb, one prosthesis for every patient. The 3D printable prosthetics is actually the opportunity for us to customize what we are giving to our patients,” she added.

“Globally and locally, there is a huge demand for prosthesis. In the Philippines, 1.8 million of Filipinos needed prosthesis in 2018 and is projected that by 2050, five million will need prosthesis,” said Dr. Josephine R. Bundoc, Head of the PGH Department of Orthopedics Prosthetics and Orthotics Section.

“The huge demand for prosthesis is mismatched with very low access. This is attributed globally to environmental markers: social, physical and occupational, inadequate and not strategically located facilities, and lack of trained personnel. Additional factors in the Philippines are prohibitive cost, limited local suppliers and manufacturers, and the amputee’s own belief and attitudes,” she pointed out.

“In 3D printed prosthesis, we just scan the residual limb and digitally model the prosthesis design and start printing. It is very personalized and customized. Designs can be improved rapidly and even the most complex residual limb shapes can be accommodated,” she stated.

Dr. Bundoc explained that the traditional below the knee prosthesis service entails 52 hours and 15 minutes and costs Php 30,000, while the 3D printed prosthesis only entails 18 hours at the cost of Php 10,000.  She mentioned the limitations of 3D printed prosthesis, such as the need for a high-end 3D printer to produce highest quality prosthesis, no power interruptions, need for trained prosthesists and physicians, and a shorter life-span.

Dr. Paul Matthew S. Liao, Prosthetics and Orthotics Fellow, enumerated the advantages of the 3D printed prosthesis based on his team’s experiences: much lighter than the conventional prosthesis, can be used in activities involving water, and can be done in 3-5 days compared to the traditional prosthesis which entails three months.

“We developed this technology in Japan, but we hope that the implementation will start in the Philippines. We started a demonstration experiment for commercialization of 3D printed prosthetic foot. This demonstration experiment was adopted by the Japan External Trade Organization’s Japan-ASEAN New Industry Creation Demonstration Project, Japan International Cooperation System (JICS), and jointly implemented with the PGH). Through this commercialization, we aim to realize our vision of creating a world where all people in need can obtain prosthetics and orthotics,” stated Mr. Yutaka Tokushima, CEO of Instalimb Inc.