Children in the Middle East Are Hearing the Sounds of Hope
Our very own Dr. Fligor has been spending volunteer time with an exciting group that is bringing hope to children in the Middle East who have difficulty with hearing and speech. His work with 3DP4ME and the launch of their groundbreaking Hearing Express™ Project is making waves in underserved communities in Jordan.
What Is 3DP4ME?
3DP4ME means “3D printing for ME (Middle East).” 3DP4ME is a U.S.-based nonprofit, an innovative tech startup operating in the Middle East with a focus on humanitarian solutions. Their mission is to provide solutions to real human problems with practical 3D printing. Their vision is to create a state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing (3D scan/design/print) facility that will provide assistive devices to underserved communities in the Middle East.
3DP4ME is focused on providing solutions that are specific to each patient. They use industry-specific 3D printers and scanning technology, and CAD modeling software. These tools work together to provide solutions that exceed traditional methods in speed, operational efficiencies, and distribution.
3DP4ME’s First Project
Their first project is the Hearing Express Project. It aims to expand accessibility to hearing aids for those in Jordan who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get them. Additionally, 3DP4ME provides speech therapy to empower each child, so they actively engage and thrive in their educational development.
Have you ever seen a crown being custom made at your dentist’s office, on the spot? Think along those lines, and then apply the technology to audiology. 3DP4ME takes a 3D ear scan of each patient, creates a custom earmold, and then acquires the high-end electronics from the manufacturer and assembles them. Next, an expert audiologist fits and programs the hearing aids for each patient. 3DP4ME benefitted from the guidance of our expert audiologist, Dr. Fligor, in many ways.
Dr. Fligor’s Role
When 3DP4ME’s founder was starting out and discovering the potential of 3D printing to serve humanitarian needs, he did a ton of research on providers of new 3D ear scanning technology. One of these providers was Lantos Technologies, located in metro-Boston. 3DP4ME was put in touch with Boston’s own Dr. Fligor, who was chief development officer at Lantos Technologies. Immediately, Dr. Fligor was excited by the good that could be done if 3DP4ME’s mission were to succeed.
After Dr. Fligor left Lantos, and took over Tobias & Battite Hearing Wellness, Dr. Fligor and 3DP4ME kept in touch. When 3DP4ME shared their challenges and victories with him, he would then share his insights and wisdom in turn. Dr. Fligor, for instance, stressed the importance of staff training, because using a 3D scanner effectively wasn’t something that a person could just “pick up.”
A Partnership for Good
Dr. Fligor finally met in person with 3DP4ME’s founder in Jordan in February 2023. They spent one week meeting with the families of the first 52 children identified to receive free hearing care through 3DP4ME. The onsite earmold lab was ready, and Dr. Fligor scanned these children in three days. They are eager to repeat their success with another group of children, while continuing to build the infrastructure to care for those initial 52 children in the long term. Dr. Fligor stresses that, “Hearing care is a process, not just a single event.”
Beyond the immediate impact of improved hearing, this project unlocks doors to education and potential work opportunities. Children who once faced very real barriers now find themselves engaged in the classroom, with no more limits to their dreams and aspirations. The most promising future is a place where every child has the chance to thrive.
As the project continues to unfold, it’s clear that the restoration of hearing goes beyond the physical act. It’s a restoration of dignity, allowing patients to seamlessly participate in society without the limitations brought about by hearing loss.
3DP4ME’s initial focus was fitting 52 children with hearing aids, both boys and girls, who are impacted by hearing loss. Their current goal is to provide another 100 children with hearing aids in 2024.
The Stories That Reflect the Need
Just one of these stories is about a child named Ahmed. Ahmed is a Syrian refugee in Jordan (yes, 3DP4ME helps refugees too), and his story highlights the importance of having an expert audiologist involved in this project. Ahmed had received a hearing aid from a different organization, but the device didn’t work for him. When Dr. Fligor investigated this issue, his ears perked up when he heard that Ahmed was given no proper follow-up care. Follow-up care is essential in the world of hearing devices. This was yet another example of how Dr. Fligor’s personal audiological mission aligns perfectly with the mission of 3DP4ME.
From just one picture, Dr. Fligor was able to see that the hearing aid given to Ahmed was clearly for an adult, not a child, so of course it wouldn’t fit or function. A problem like Ahmed’s would be simple to solve once 3DP4ME and their partners were fully operational on the ground in Jordan. An excerpt from their website describes exactly what would happen in this case:
“3DP4ME would 3D scan/3D print Ahmed’s earmolds for his custom hearing aids, while adding an ear hook and tubing made for a child his age. We would set follow-up appointments to visit Ahmed every six months to ensure his hearing aids were working properly. Most importantly, we would build a strong relationship with his family to make sure they felt honored.”
To learn more about Ahmed’s journey to better hearing, click this link that’ll take you to 3DP4ME’s website.
Invitation to Join the Cause
The need is clearly there. Yes, other humanitarian efforts exist in that part of the world, but what good is a hearing aid if it doesn’t work for that particular patient? If we’re going to help solve the problem of untreated hearing loss, it must come with personalized service, individual attention, and follow-up care that ensures the job was done correctly. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Dr. Fligor, 3DP4ME and the Hearing Express Project have an open invitation for others to help. Whether through financial support, volunteering, or simply spreading the word, everyone has a role to play in this important mission.
Follow this link to find several ways to help.
Together with Dr. Fligor, you can give kids like Ahmed the chance to hear well and thrive.
Want to Help Dr. Fligor Restore Hearing for Children in the Middle East?
Visit the 3DP4ME page to learn more.