MSF innovation

Seven-year-old Noor’s face was burned after an explosion when she was four years old. The MSF team 3D printed a transparent mask to compress her scars and soften her skin over time. She is here with her brother Salah and Pierre, the MSF physiotherapist. Jordan, 2018. © Hussein Amri / MSF

Since 2016, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been using 3D imaging and printing technology to provide assistance for survivors of physical trauma who desire but may not otherwise have access to prosthetic limbs. Access to this care offers support to people in their mobility and autonomy.

The MSF team in Amman, Jordan first adapted 3D printing of prostheses as a tool to offer more personalized support to meet the needs of patients that is also less expensive than the traditional method of manufacturing prostheses.

The project has expanded to design facial compression masks for burn patients. Months after an accident, facial burns can lead to very serious after-effects if they are not treated with compressive masks and a thorough followup.
Applying a compression mask to the patient’s face reduces post-surgery effects, facilitates healing and shortens healing time. The method of making these masks assisted by 3D technology is more comfortable for the patient than the traditional technique and allows for expert-assisted treatment at a distance, thus increasing access.

In 2019, MSF teams in Haiti started offering this care and teams in Gaza followed in 2020, all using 3D technology.

108: patients supported to date

37: amputee patients supported in Amman

71: burn patients supported in Amman,
Gaza and Port-au-Prince

Patients from: Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, PALESTINE,
Syria and Yemen

Both facets of care are possible thanks to the use of scanners and the digitization of the data they collect. The scanners make a 3D image of the surface of the area where the prosthesis will sit against or of the patient’s face. The information is then digitized and sent to experts in specialized centres. This digitization makes it possible to overcome the main barrier to access to care: the involvement of personnel trained in these very specific tasks.