Gift of 3D-printed arm helps young cellist find her music

CHICAGO -- 4th grader Tatiana Coletta plays the cello, but not like her peers.  You see, Tatiana is missing half of her left arm.

"Typically you would play with your left hand on the fingerboard and you would bow with your right. What we had done is we switched the cello around so she was using the right hand on the fingerboard and she was bowing with her left arm," said Tatiana's orchestra teacher Jeanine Woodman.

Playing that way is challenging, so Woodman, got to thinking. She read a newspaper article over the summer about a band director who created a 3D-printed prosthesis for one of his drummers. And so, with the help of a Chicago engineer, Woodman got the blueprints for a custom 3D arm.

It took two days to assemble the various parts. Monday after school, Ms. Woodman presented Tatiana with her gift.

"I feel really happy and excited for this opportunity," Tatiana said.

Her mom could not be prouder.

"I’m just so happy that this will make her life a little bit easier," Teresa Pimentel said.

"It will allow her to sit with good posture, allow her to have a full bow range motion and to have more confidence when she’s playing as well," Woodman said.

As she relearns the cello, Tatiana is already thinking about how else she can use her 3D-printed arm.

"It’s going to help me in a lot of ways because I’ve actually never been able to make a snowman or the cello that well. It’s going to make it a lot easier for me," Tatiana said.

A regular prosthetic arm, which Tatiana’s parents say they’ve considered, could cost thousands of dollars. This 3D printed arm cost $200. Tatiana’s smile? Priceless.