A New Approach to Prosthetic Design and Integration
Patients who are living with the loss of their hands are unable to take care of themselves without some form of prosthetic device. Outside of North America, 80 to 85 percent of worldwide amputees are survivors of blasts from land mines. Mines are responsible for over 26,000 amputations per year and have produced 300,000 amputees worldwide. They have caused more injury than both nuclear devices exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined (Berry, Dale. From Land Mines to Lawn Mowers Prosthetic Rehabilitation Proceeds One foot at a Time, The Washington Diplomat, 19 January 2005). My dream is to help these people. My proposal takes advantage of new inexpensive 3D printing technology to create a robust 3D printed arm and hand. I have already developed a prototype arm/hand and I have invented a new prototype breath-pressure control system. This prosthetic is both easy to control, robust and inexpensive.The plans and technology I develop for this project would be made available online or in kit-form. The electronic parts are easily obtained at any electronics hobby store and could potentially be scavenged from existing technology. It is my goal to establish local, sponsored prosthetic dispensary nodes around the world, which would custom print, assemble and fit the devices to any and all who need them. My system is easily repaired as all wearing parts are re-printable, and my control system just as reliable as traditional control systems (EMG and muscle flexion) but at a fraction of the cost. I estimate that one hand/arm combination with a controller could be produced with wholesale parts for around $300 Canadian dollars. This makes it among the least expensive high functioning prosthetics available in the world.