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Posted: August 17, 2018 9:45 a.m.
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Surgeon helps children get a grip on life

Kaytrina Curtis/Winn ACH

DIVARTY Surgeon, 2ABCT, 3rd ID, Maj. Brian Mims, sits in his office at the Hawks Troop Medical Clinic, surrounded by his 3D printed partial prosthesis for children.

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In life few know what their future will look like or what type of career life may afford them, yet somehow U.S. Army Medical Department Activity,  Division Artillery Surgeon, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Major Brian Mims,’ life was set as a young child to make a difference in the world.  

Mims did not join the Army as a medic, but started his career as an armor officer, then psychological operations officer before deciding to go the medical route. Mims said he joined to “see the world,” but ended up finding much more. 

“It’s probably one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had in the military because I feel like I can actually make a difference in somebody’s life,” Mims said. “People come in here every day they’re hurting … and I can make a genuine impact in people’s lives.”

As a self-described “crafty” person, Mims said he has always had a hobby of tinkering with electronics and woodworking throughout his life. Yet, as he watched the 3D printing gain momentum in 2013, Mims said he kept his eye on the technology side of 3D printing. He decided after a deployment to the Ukraine in 2015 to purchase his first machine. 

3D Printing in its simplest terms, is the process of taking a liquid and through the use of an ultraviolet light, and turn the liquid into a solid or better known as stereolithography.

The inventor of 3D Printing, Chuck Hull, in a 2014 interview with CNN, said he stumbled upon the invention in the mid-1980s, but he was surprised at the use of 3D printing in the medical field. However, Mims saw the need to create prosthesis for children, who may go through six growth spurts during childhood. 

The average price for a partial prosthetic arm for a child ranges from $3,500-5,000, which may cause a financial burden on families. 

Mims works through a non-profit foundation www.enableingthefuture.org  and took his skill and compassion for others and uses his 3D printer to create partial prosthesis for children he has never met. 

Since 2014, Mims has created approximately 50 partial prosthetic hands through the foundation. 

“Somebody somewhere in the world says, ‘hey would like to be considered for one of these prosthetic devices’,” Mims said. “They put their case files online and what we do is we log onto the website and if we think we can help them out we can volunteer to help them. If the recipient like us we kind of get matched together and they provide us with sizing photos. And then based upon those sizing photos then we start trying to craft.”

Mims said he has created various partial prosthesis for children and superhero themes are most popular. The process is approximately a week long, between printing and assembly and costs Mims between $25-50. As a part of the foundation the recipient is never charged. 

Sarah, Mims spouse, supports his hobby.

“The first one was a little rough I remember,” she said, “and it’s just nice to see the little videos and pictures of the kids because not only do they get a hand, they get one that’s cool. You know they get like Spiderman, and Captain America and sparkles and stuff, which medical companies don’t make hot pink sparkly hands for little girls … It’s just kind of interesting to see him excited about something.”

Mims smiled as he recalled the reaction of one his recipient’s reactions to receiving their prosthesis.  

 “I had one little boy I worked with in Texas,” Mims said. “I actually felt bad because his father emailed me and told me that kids at his school were making fun of him. We’re calling him a monster just because of his limb deformity, and so what I did was I made him a little Superman hand and sent it to him. It was red and blue and had the Superman logo on it, and just the picture I got of him smiling was just heart melting.”

To see the full visual story, visit the Winn Army Community Hospital Facebook page, click videos, enjoy.


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