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

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

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