3-D printer technology used to straighten 10-year-old girl's spine

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - You've probably heard of 3-D printers that can create three-dimensional objects like jewelry and tools. That same technology was recently used to help straighten a little girl's spine.

Ten-year-old Paige Williams successfully underwent a surgery at the end of March that now allows her to sit up straight - something she's never been able to do before.

"She cannot sit up by herself. She could not sit up straight. Her hip is out," said Vicki Noble, Paige's mom.

Paige was the victim of shaken baby syndrome - the damage caused by that injury left her with Cerebral Palsy.

Her spine was so curved that she spent a lot of time staring at the ground. That is, until Dr. Christina Hardesty, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at University Hospitals, met Paige and decided she could safely straighten her crooked spine using a brand new technique that's only been done once before in Northeast Ohio.

Firefly technology, or a 3-D printed copy of Paige's spine including surgical guides, showed Dr. Hardesty exactly where to place the screws in Paige's vertebrae.

"At the time of the surgery, I take this guide, try it first on the model and place it right onto her spine. I am then able to drill through these two tiny holes, and then place the screws where the holes have been created," described Hardesty.

One month later, Paige has made a remarkable recovery, and is already able to do things her mom and dad have never seen her do before like sleep without her body being folded over, and sit up in church holding the pew in front of her without falling.

When you ask her how she feels, she says, "Better!"

"I am so pleased. She would always sit forward with her head in her lap - could not sit up straight. Now she just sits up like a new woman - like a new girl. It's awesome," added Noble.

Dr. Hardesty says the 3-D printout of Paige's spine made her surgery safer and faster.

"It shaves hours off the surgery, and when you have the two screws in exactly the right place, you have better control over the correction. We get even straighter results, said Hardesty.

Hardesty says we will probably see 3-D technology used more frequently in many other surgeries.

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