We're a little crazy, about science!

Day 111: A prosthetic update

colored-head.jpg

Prosthetic I’ve designed for Lucas, you can see the full view further into the post.

Now that the term is over, you would think I get some time to myself. That is unfortunately not true. There is still quite a bit of work ahead for me before I can take some time over the winter break to relax. One of the more important things that needs to happen is the prosthetic project I’ve been working on for some time.

It’s been a long journey designing a prosthetic from scratch. The design part itself isn’t the biggest issue to be honest. I’ve got the design down pretty much, the hard part is getting the electronics to fit inside the tiny prosthetic. However, we’re working hard to finish it before Christmas, since that would be the perfect time to give it to our recipient.

Lucas is a normal 8-year old kid. He loves alligators, enjoys playing with his family, and is surprisingly studious for his age. Overall if you met him, you may not even notice he is missing his left hand. He was born without it, so he’s never known anything else, but there are a few things in life that having a second hand would help him do. That’s where we came in.

At the beginning of the year we met Lucas for the first time, it was a learning experience for sure. While I’ve designed prosthetics in the past, I’ve never done one for a child and I most certainly have not made a myoelectric prosthetic. My work usually revolves around designing a prosthetic that gives the wearer the ability to do something very specific, ride a bicycle, nail a certain move in ballet, or just something that looks fun to wear.

Full prosthetic

The full alligator themed prosthetic!

When we met with Lucas we realized we were going to need something more versatile. Challenge accepted, but as time went on, it became more apparent that we weren’t going to be able to do this as quickly as we wanted. There were issues that kept coming up, doing this on a budget for one, but also life, and space constraints.

We’ve recently gotten most of this worked out, not all of it, but enough that I think we are coming to the end of the project finally. So now that finals are done, I have some extra time to dedicate to finishing this project once and for all.

There is a lot that goes into building a myoelectric prosthetic, we’ve learned that the hard way. I think the hardest thing we’ve come up against was the wear testing. He’s a kid, we need something that is going to be tough enough to keep up with him. When our design is primarily 3D printed, that is a tough order. After a lot of trial and even more error, we’ve managed to get it (mostly) correct.

After the neurotech confrence and my QE, we should be able to focus on this almost exclusively. Look for an update in the coming weeks. I am excited to share the final product with everyone and some shots of Lucas himself enjoying the new arm. His family already signed a photo release, so don’t worry. I would never share his story without permission first.

Until next time, don’t stop learning!

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