Irene Healey – “My strengths are coming up with new designs for prostheses and working with patients to develop products specific to their needs”

By on May 16th, 2018 in interview


 Irene Healey
Irene Healey

Irene Healey is a visual artist and Certified Clinical Anaplastologist with over 20 years of experience providing restorative lifelike and functional external body prostheses to patients who have lost a part of their body. 

She tells us more here about how she uses 3D Printing when building a prosthesis.

Nora Toure: Irene, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?

Irene Healey: I am a sculptor and have always been interested in the materials and technologies used to make things. As an art student, I wanted to learn to sculpt the body and understand it. I was fortunate to do my last year of art college in an overseas program in Italy. I stayed there for 8 years wandering the museums and worked with artisans to learn the craft of sculpture. 

Later when I returned home, I decided to do a medical art degree. There are several programs in North America that train artists in the core courses of medicine so I was able to take the Gross Anatomy and Histology. It seemed a natural fit to combine my skills as an artist with my medical art training and do lifelike facial and body prostheses. The field is called anaplastology and I am a Board Certified Clinical Anaplastologist. 

After graduating, I led a facial prosthesis department at a Cancer Center for a period. I was able to develop my clinical skills and gained an understanding of hospital-based medicine. I also experienced working as part of a multidisciplinary team and I developed an understanding of what patients experience when undergoing cancer treatment or after a traumatic injury.

Now, I have my own company and I see 3D printing as another tool to use to develop solutions for patients. The artist in me likes the arena of 3D printing as it is a new territory to explore. As a clinician, I believe 3D scanning and 3D printing will enable us to provide care to broader patient groups. 

Everything used to be custom-made and artisanal. Then we had industrialization and corporatization and pre-made things became the norm. I like how we can venture back to making consumer items (and prosthetics) personalized and customized again and we can obtain mass market customization. It is a new artisanship.

Read the rest at Women in 3D Printing

By Nora Toure

California-based Nora Toure is the woman behind “Women in 3D Printing”, a group dedicated to promoting and showcasing the use of 3D printing for women. She’s also the Director of Sales & Service Factory Operations at Fast Radius, and a TEDx speaker.