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3D-Printed Skull Implant Helps 7-Year-Old Boy Get Back To Being A Kid

LOS ANGELES ( — Seven-year-old Teddy Ward is back to being a normal kid again, just two years after a tragic fall almost cost him his life.

Two years ago, Teddy fell down a Topanga Canyon hillside and suffered a traumatic brain injury. It left him with a gaping hole in his skull.

"This was a remarkable defect," his doctor, Dr. Mark Urata, said. "It was close to 50 percent of his skull that was gone."

Doctors tried a surgery to repair the injury, but it was unsuccessful.

So Teddy was sent home and forced to wear a helmet everywhere he went for more than a year.

He also had to tame his sometimes-rambunctious ways. That meant no play dates and no birthday parties.

"No parent wanted the responsibly of a child without a skull," his mother, Lisa Ward, said.

That's all changed now after an innovative surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

The 1st-grader last month received a 3-D-printed skull implant that fits perfectly with his existing skull bone.

The implant is no ordinary plastic. It's made from a material called PolyEtherEtherKetone (PEEK), which has roughly the same physical properties as a skull.

The surgery was successful, and Teddy is now back to being an active kid.

"I put the word out, literally a few days ago, that Teddy is available for sleepovers!" Lisa Ward said.

Doctors say Teddy can participate in all the same activities as other kids, with the exception of playing football.

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