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Story Update: Springfield Teen Gets 3-D Printed Prosthetic Arm

Kris Fox

In 2018, Tiffany Eckert reported on a Springfield boy who was looking forward to getting prosthetic arms built with a 3-D printer. This is an update to that story.

Joseph Horning was born with Mobius Syndrome, which results in facial paralysis and limb abnormalities. Joe has no arms below the elbows. Still, he can tell a wicked joke, ride a bike, hold a microphone and even play the drums.

Paula Free is an amputee who started the non-profit “Power On With Limb Loss.” She lost her left leg in an accident. Paula introduced Joe to members of the University of Oregon Bio-Mechanics Investigation, Outreach Club (UO B.I.O.) in 2018 and they started work to create prosthetic arms and hands using a 3-D printer.

Credit Tiffany Eckert
Joseph Horton records a station ID at KLCC studios.

After many prototypes, a working prosthetic was built and is functioning for Joe today. The UO B.I.O. Club and Curtis Penny at Springfield’s Hanger Clinic continue to perfect the prosthetics so Joe is able to perform various tasks. Namely, to hold his drumsticks. Joe says he wants to be a broadcaster when he grows up. At a recent visit to KLCC, he got some practice.

“Hello everyone, I’m Joseph Horton.  And you’re listening to KLCC 89.7 in Eugene, Oregon.

I got my 3-d printed hands in 2019, in late August. Paula, can you tell us what is going to happen next?”

Credit Tiffany Eckert
Joseph Horton in the record stacks at KLCC studios in downtown Eugene.

Paula: “Well, to elaborate on that just a little bit. We started with the bio-club at the University of Oregon and we all worked together and they built Joe an amazing 3-D printed arm. And then, with a little more progress after that, he has now got two prosthetic arms with attachments that hold drumsticks. And Joe’s an amazing drummer. And it’s just impossible to say what the future might hold because I think Joe can do anything. These prosthetic arms can be interchanged with other hands and other devices so Joe will be able to accomplish anything in life.”

Credit Tiffany Eckert
Paula Free and Joseph Horton in a studio at KLCC.

Joseph Horton and Paula Free are the subjects of Tiffany Eckert's 2019 PRNDI award winning feature. Listen to it here: https://www.klcc.org/post/springfield-boy-will-soon-get-prosthetic-arms-made-3-d-printer

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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