Sydney Toddler with cerebral palsy takes first steps wearing 3D printed orthotics

A toddler has taken her first independent steps wearing 3D printed orthotics made by Australian start-up AbilityMate

Eve Darcy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy only a few weeks after her birth; it wasn’t a surprise that Eve could only walk aided by a rolling frame as she growing. But now, after a couple of days wearing 3D printed orthotics, she’s happily walking by her own and doing everyday activities like a normal child.

“She was in daycare on Wednesday, she walked in with her frame, she didn’t go Thursday, and she walked in on her own on Friday. It happened so fast, she just took off”. Said Joe Darcy, Eve’s father.

Eve Darcy independent walks thanks to her new 3D printed orthotics.

Attending a global problematic

In Australia, where Eve lives, a child is born with cerebral palsy every 15hr. As a result, this is the most common childhood physical disability in the country so far. While most of these children need to wear orthotics throughout their life, the current waitlist to get to see an orthotist can take up to eight months, and, once the child has finally an appointment, he or she is subject to an impractical plaster casting process. From there, it can take up to 12 weeks to turn that cast into a wearable device.

What is more concerning, according to the World Health Organization, 100 million children are in need of orthotics worldwide, and demand is exponentially exceeding supply.

About AbilityMate

AbilityMate is a small company in Sydney’s west. The startup is currently working towards a future where people with disabilities can have affordable and faster access to the assistive products they need.

AbilityMate’s vision embodies the mantra “Design Global, Manufacture Local”

A pair of AbilityMate’s Magic Shoes.

Although their model applies to many different devices, they decided to begin with a focus on one of the greatest need areas: customized Orthotics for children.

The Magic Shoes Project

AbilityMate use 3D printing technology to create tailored orthotics or ‘Magic Shoes’ in a fraction of the time a conventional process requires. They utilize a 3D scanner to take the necessary measurements of the child’s foot. Then an expert orthotist model it to medical requirements and 3D print the Orthoses; they use an industrial EOS SLS Printer with medical-grade Nylon material.

Magic Shoes are manufactured at a factory in Guildford and can be fitted in less than two months.

3D scanning the necessary measurements of a child’s foot.

Expected Project Outcomes  

  • Improvement in Wait Times – Reduction of wait times by 50-80%.
  • Increased Efficiency of the Orthotists – by 400-600%, freeing them up to help more kids.
  • Improved Patient Experience – Development of child centric technologies that fundamentally changes the patient’s experience for the better.
  • Decrease in Total Cost of Care – Cost savings for families, clinics , NDIS and other equipment funding bodies.

*Source: AbilityMate

The start-up project is now searching for 30 children to trial the shoes.

AbilityMate is currently launching a groundbreaking initiative to help children with walk disabilities. They are looking for 20 to 30 children, ages 2-8 years old, who are in need of ankle/foot orthotics and meet strict inclusion criteria to participate in a clinical trial of 3D Printed AFOs. If this other trial result as positive as Eve’s, AbilityMate shall start commercializing their Magic shoes in Australia.

Another of their goals is to make designs available for global collaboration through a safe & ethical open license and training program.

Meanwhile, Eve’s mother Hiam Sakakini said her 16-month old is progressing. “Eve can just play in the playground like a normal child […] I can go into a playground with her and she can just go.”

The organization also needs research partners and orthotists to be among the first to offer Magic Shoes in Australia. So, if you’re interested in applying for any of the above, you can take a look at their site.


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Comments (13)
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  • Ceufon

    I just found this blog, I would like to know more about the subject, I think 3d printing would help a lot in my work

    • Diana Segura

      Well, hello! and welcome to, all you need to know about 3D printing and related topics is here! just use the search engine or forum.

      Anything else you want to know just send me a pm and I’ll be glad to help 😀

  • Richard Bynum

    So very awesome and inspirational!! The price of orthotics will be cut and the poor will benifit greatly from the people with 3D printers! Another great reason to spread the news of what they are capable of!

    • Diana Segura

      This is the kind of projects startups worldwide should implement! There’s so many people to bless out there.
      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • mperkins37

    Loving the medical implications

    • Diana Segura

      More of these medical 3D printing articles coming up! Wait for them 😀

  • Jared Heifetz

    Truly beautiful! I hope I get an opportunity to help someone like that.

    • Diana Segura

      Anyone owning a 3D printer (and time enough to use it properly) can help by starting little but significant projects to help people around, that’s what I love about this community <3

  • Pam Jackson

    Interesting article. God bless the people at AbilityMate for the amazing work they are doing

    • Diana Segura

      I love what they´re trying. Thanks for comment Pam 🙂

  • Sercan

    A realtive has lost her front part of her foot and I am browsing around every now and then to get ideas for a lighter solution than the one she got from her doc and this one looks like one into the right direction. That’s why I love 3d printing so much. Everyone can add value to the worldwide community. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  • Richard Bynum

    Just seen (on the Nightly News of NBC) a story of doctors using 3D printers to print exact copies of patient’s main arteries to practice a risky procedure. They get the surgery team together to work on the 3D printed copy and figure out the best way to get around all the bends and turns of the real artery so they know exactly what to do for each patient they work on. It’s awesome that doctors have started using 3D printers to save people’s lives! This is still the early stages of medical 3D printing. I can’t wait to see how far it will grow!!

  • Darren

    Awesome how mankind continues to benefit from 3d Printing technology.