George Mason students design 3D-printed prosthetic arm for young violinist

WASHINGTON — With the help of a 3-D printer, George Mason University students made a young Fairfax County violin player’s passion more attainable.

Five bioengineering students created a custom-made prosthetic arm for 10-year-old Isabella Nicola. Nicola was born with an incomplete left arm and previously had problems controlling the bow of the violin, NBC Washington reports.

Isabella Nicola Cabrera
Ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera, left, gets instruction from music Professor Elizabeth Adams, right, as she plays her violin with her new prosthetic at the engineering department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. Abdul Gouda, Mona Elkholy, Ella Novoselsky, Racha Salha and Yasser Alhindi developed multiple prototypes throughout the year. There was a fair amount of literature on similar projects that helped them get a good start, but Isabella’s case is unique to her, and the project included plenty of trial and error.

A new prosthetic holds a bow as it awaits ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera at the engineering department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. A group of five students designed a new prosthetic for Isabel to play the violin. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
A new prosthetic holds a bow as it awaits ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera at the engineering department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. A group of five students designed a new prosthetic for Isabel to play the violin.

Isabella Nicola Cabrera
Ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera smiles after playing her violin with her new prosthetic at the engineering department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. “Oh my gosh, that’s so much better,” Isabella said as she tried out the new prosthetic.

Isabella Nicola Cabrera
Ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera applies rosin to her bow as prepares to play her violin with a new prosthetic at the engineering department of George Mason University in Farifax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. A group of five engineering students designed a new prosthetic for Isabel to use to play the violin.

Isabella Nicola Cabrera
Ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera plays her violin with her new prosthetic at the engineering department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. Isabella never had any doubt it would come together. “I felt right away that I’d be able to play,” she said. “I’ve always had perseverance.”

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Isabella Nicola Cabrera
A new prosthetic holds a bow as it awaits ten-year-old Isabella Nicola Cabrera at the engineering department of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Thursday, April 20, 2017. A group of five students designed a new prosthetic for Isabel to play the violin. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Isabella Nicola Cabrera
Isabella Nicola Cabrera
Isabella Nicola Cabrera
The students worked with Nicola for a year until they mastered her prosthetic arm.

“I’m very happy. I’m very thankful,” said Nicola. “Without these people, I don’t think I could be able to play my violin. I don’t think I would be able to play any instrument.”

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