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Local doctor born with disability gets custom-made 3D-printed exam gloves

Local doctor born with disability gets 3D-printed exam gloves

A local doctor, born with a hand deformity isn't letting his disability stop him from treating patients, but he did get a little help from an international company, and a 3D printer. For the past 11 years, Dr. Sean Branch has been looking for exam gloves to fit his right hand. Six weeks ago, that search finally ended.

Scalpels, syringes, sutures, they're all important in the medical world, but for most doctors it's their hands they consider to be their most valuable tool. For local dermatologist Dr. Branch, finding exam gloves to fit his hand has always been a problem, until now.

"I've been searching for gloves since my first year of medical school, looking all over the county, even Hollywood with some of the special effects offices," said Dr. Branch.

His answer was closer to home. Thanks to Gulf Breeze native, Ginny Dunn, who works at Kimberly-Clark, Branch is now able to work comfortably in his custom-made exam gloves, made with the help of a 3D printer.

"It started off with a cellphone picture of my hand that got sent to their team who 3D printed it, and they sent me the prototype. Surprisingly, it actually fit pretty well," said Dr. Branch. "I had to video myself putting on the glove and describe where it was tight, where it was loose, and how it could be adjusted. That got sent to their team over in Malaysia, and they made another prototype, and that went back and forth, until we got the perfect fit."

The whole process took several months.

"We try to make people's lives better on a day to day basis, and so it's just another way that we were able to do it," said Dunn, senior communications consultant at Kimberly-Clark. "Corporate America sometimes gets a bad rap, but I think that if you really look behind the scenes at the people that make up those companies, they're really good people trying to do really good things."

Dr. Branch was sent a year's supply of the custom-fit gloves, and he'll be able to reorder as needed. He'll just have to pay the cost of shipping, which he doesn't seem to mind.

"I'd pay a million dollars for a box of these gloves," said Dr. Branch. "They're just priceless."

Dr. Branch goes through about 150 pairs of gloves a week. He says these new ones won't only save him time, as he used to have to tie the last three fingers of his exam glove, and flip it inside out, but will also allow him to work more comfortably.

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