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Students from Yamagata, Japan Visit The I2P Lab

Dr. Greene showing students from YPUHS the 3D printed fingers. Photo by Hillary Lorsch.

Dr. David Greene, a professor in the department of occupational therapy, focuses his teachings mainly on disabilities and scenarios related to clinical biomechanics. He has worked with CSU for about 25 years now and has a background in occupational therapy as well as anatomy and education. Dr. Greene first heard about the Idea2Product lab when he received a call from an individual who had a severe head injury in a biking accident.

“The man was using a splint for tightness he was still having in his hand but OT splints don’t last for very long. He heard about 3D printing somehow and thought that maybe we could try that. He knew one of the former Idea2Product managers and decided we should go there,” Dr. Greene said. They took a 3D scan of his hand to make it easier to figure out what type of 3D print he would need. He then found an OT who was already doing this and moved on from the lab. “While I was there, I noticed the lab had printed a prosthetic-hand, and I realized we could use the same kind of finger model with the joints and all I would need to do is attach pulleys and strings for tendons,” Dr. Greene said. Dr. Greene uses the Idea2Product lab as a way to create 3D printed finger models to advance medical education. Dr. Greene said. “No one uses models like this. Most use cadavers but cadavers don’t move so you can’t teach biomechanics.” Being able to print the fingers makes teaching a lot easier for Dr. Greene by having the hands-on learning experience. “I spoke to a student the other day and they mentioned how they still remember the fingers. You never know what kind of impact you might have on someone. I don’t know how I would teach the class without these models.” That’s why during an exchange with the Yamagata Prefectural University of Health Sciences (YPUHS), Dr. Greene brought them to the Idea2Product lab.

3D fingers being printed. Photo by Hillary Lorsch.

The University in Yamagata is CSU’s sister university and the two occupational therapy departments have created a long-time relationship. The YPUHS OT faculty originally came to learn about our master’s program since at the time their curriculum was limited to a bachelor’s degree. They continue to come each year in the spirit of an educational and cultural exchange. As well each year a representative of CSU-OT faculty is invited to teach for a week in Yamagata. In more recent years, our students have assumed an increasing role in hosting the YPUHS OT students when they visit, and we have been able to provide some assistance to our students to travel to Yamagata, Japan with the invited faculty member to be part of this exchange.

For this year’s visit, Dr. Greene arranged a visit to the Idea2product lab as a special treat knowing their department is quite technology oriented. “The students from YPUHS had probably never seen anything 3D printed. The experience was a mixture of this is how we teach and this is where we get the materials to print it. The fact that you could print out a model on a printer was pretty amazing to them,” Dr. Greene said. ” You don’t even need to speak in biomechanics, you can just show and so we sat for an hour playing with the 3D printed fingers.” 

Jim Wise, Idea2Product staff member, showing students from Yamagata, Japan how to 3D scan. Photo by Hillary Lorsch.

Jim Wise, Idea2Product staff member, had the chance to show the students from YPUHS how to use products like the Lulzbot TAZ 3D printer and Sense 3D scanner. One of the students actually got to have his face scanned by Wise and shown to the students on the computer screen. This was not only a learning experience for the students from YPUHS but also the Idea2Product lab who had the chance to teach about the world of 3D printing to students for the first time while having the help of a translator.