Well, I may have lost my two-days-long ranting post about the Do It Yourself Environment Sensing Prosthetics Workshop I'd attended, but that hasn't stopped the topic from staying front & centre in my sensor range!
A few posts have popped up in the usual places where I watch for such inspirations. While the title of this first one is a bit mis-leading, it certainly serves the highlight the amazing advances in the DIY movement. 3D printing and other such miraculous non-sense are serving to better empower the end user to play an integral part of their own prosthetic therapies. Custom made solutions are becoming more and more then norm.
Here we see a Teen-ager who, motivated only by his own curiosity has built a "Brain Controlled" prosthesis. Why the quotations around brain controlled? Well, I have a personal benchmark for what Brain Controlled really means. It's not enough for an EKG meter to be strapped to your temples measuring rises & dips in relative brain activity. I'm holding out for the day when a patient can think about moving their arm as if it still exists in it's fleshy form, and a prosthetic replacement will respond just like the flesh one would have. So yes, this young genius did hook his invention up to an EKG and an old Nintendo Power Glove (props for nostalgia!) and his results are astounding.
Click on the photo to check it out! (link opens in new window)
The other story that really got my attention recently comes from a site I was turned on to by the organizers of the DIY Prosthetics workshop called Thingiverse. Thingiverse is by the folks at Makerbot and is a resource share for open source 3D printer CAD files. There's a project hosted over there by the people who started Coming Up Short Handed, a cleverly titled blog chronicling the challenges of building a DIY, body powered prosthesis for a young boy who was born with no fingers on one hand.
There are a lot of things about this story that are remarkable... including the facts that the two men who have designed and built the hand together live 10,000 miles apart, and saw fit to share the design as open-source! But the real clincher is seeing just how naturally little Liam us operating his hand after his 3rd day with it!
Here's the video of him using it, and click the image of the hand bellow to visit the Thingiverse page!