3D Printer Skull Implant Allows 7-Year-Old Boy to Be a Kid Again: 'We're the Lucky Ones'

After a horrible fall, Teddy Ward lost nearly half of his skull.

Most of the joy of being a kid is, well, being able to act like a kid.

For 7-year-old Teddy Ward, a rambunctious little boy who finds it hard to sit still, none of that was true.

A terrible fall two years ago left him with a hole in his skull that spanned nearly 50 percent of his head. Everywhere he went, Teddy had to wear a helmet.

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His mother, Lisa, was forever shouting at her son to slow down, stop that, don’t run, be careful, calm down, she told KCBS-TV.

Teddy couldn’t go to his friends’ birthday parties because they all had bouncy houses, she said. He couldn’t go to sleepovers because “no parent wanted the responsibility of a child without a skull,” she said.

Previous surgical attempts to close the hole in Teddy’s head were unsuccessful.

That was until recently, when physicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles used a 3D printer to manufacture a plate made from polyetheretherketone (PEEK), a thermoplastic polymer increasingly used in orthopedics and trauma medicine.

The first-grader’s surgery was a success, and the plate fit snugly against what remained of his skull.

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Teddy is now able to run, jump, roll on the floor and roughhouse like any other kid – all without that pesky helmet.

His mother is ecstatic.

“We are the lucky ones,” she said. “And we know it. And we’re thankful.”

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