Monday, January 6, 2014

prosthetic hand: milwaukee prt.2

Ranee sent some initial measurements of Shea's hand to me upon my request as well as a picture of She's affected hand. I thought maybe I could get a hand put together that is roughly the correct size before we meet this week. That way she can look things over and get an idea about how this will potentially work and fit. We're going to have to work with Shea's partial thumb in the design, so I am sure we will be doing a redesign anyway. We can always use this a reference model in the lab at school for showing visitors. It's been very cold here in Wisconsin so we have stayed in most of the weekend, so this was a good opportunity to scale the model and print the larger hand. I failed to mention last post that I am using a hand from Thingiverse designed by Jorge Zuniga from Creighton University. Jorge is doing a lot of development of 3D printed prosthetics at his University and he is active in the Google Group e-NABLE. The work that people are doing here is amazing. Apparently this is how Ranee found Pete at Milwaukee Makerspace through Nick Parker. Noah and I spent some time on Saturday scaling the model and getting it prepared to print. We printed the palm and gauntlet on Saturday day and night and then printed the fingers and thumb on Sunday after church. My son, Noah, has enjoyed working on this and he likes to remove printed supports from the parts we print. He and Shea are around the same age so I think this is good for him to be involved. I haven't gotten the necessary hardware yet, for us to put the hand together properly, but I mocked things up again. The larger hand is really nice and I love the cable routing for the fingers; very slick. Jorge has done a great job in designing this hand. I'm anxious to get it set-up with cables and pivot hardware.

In the mean time, I am bring one of my colleagues into work on this. Her name is Adream Blair and she   teaches Design Communication. We've been working with each other for quite sometime and she is excellent at all things "user-centered design" and I think she will be a true asset to the work we will be doing with Shea. Adream and I have been looking at the aesthetics of the current prosthetics and we are interested in researching what happens when you involve the end user into the design process of the prosthetic.  Function is obviously our first priority, but design is a huge part of the impact that this hand will have upon Shea. I'm thinking that we can show Shea several prototypes and then we can create a hybrid design that she is happy with and that functions properly and then we can explore ideas beyond this. I really want to use this opportunity to design something that is truly bespoke in every way and something that Ranee's daughter has absolute say in the design and creation of the prosthetic. Right now most of the current design's have a very robotic or cyborg look, so I want to get Shea's opinion on what she would like the prosthetic to be in terms of aesthetics. We want to be able to show Shea that she can have full participation into how her hand functions AND looks. In the mean time I have been looking at other prosthetics and related areas that deal with the arm, wrist, and hand. I have been trying to keep the things that might appeal to Shea in mind. Here are some of the things I've been looking at:

I'm anxious to meet Ranee and Shea and to talk to them about making the hand for Shea. Again several people from Milwaukee Makerspace have volunteered to help with time, materials, and money, and I'm sure that we'll find a way to get everyone involved by the time all is said and done.  We're going to make sure Shea gets what she wants for sure. We'll focus on fit and function right now and meet with the Occupational Therapist and then we'll begin to design things with her design direction in mind. Then we can get all of the volunteers involved and we can make this happen for Shea. 

ps. I'll have more to post in the near future on a phone conversation I had with the owner of a tool and die shop in Tulsa, OK who made a prosthetic hand for a person that works in his shop. The hand he designed has the capability of controlling the fingers individually. He has been kind enough to send me his designs, so I think we'll be able to incorporate these into Shea's hand. 

This project has been overwhelming in terms of the generosity of people. It has restored my faith in the society.

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