Here’s a heartwarming story for the day. Introducing [Shea], a little 9-year-old girl with a prosthetic hand made possible from a community of internet strangers!
She was born with only the palm of her right hand and a two-digit thumb — no fingers. Despite this day and age, prosthetics aren’t generally that good, or affordable — especially for a quickly growing young girl. So when [Shea] asked for a new hand from Santa before Christmas, her mom, [Ranee], started doing some research online. She had seen 3D printed prosthetics through Facebook posts and managed to track down the E-Nable group, which is a community of maker’s dedicated to lending a hand — quite literally.
The group got her in touch with [Nick Parker], a high school student and robotics enthusiast from California eager to help, who then introduced her (online) to his local Makerspace — from there they connected with the Milwaukee Makerspace (closer to home), and [Frankie Flood], an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
[Flood] started work immediately, although he wasn’t quite ready for the three-day deadline little [Shea] had given just days before Christmas. He took a few of the designs already available online including the original Robohand, the Talon Hand, and the Cyborg Beast and started tinkering.
By creating parts for the hands in all of [Shea's] favorite colors, he further refined the design, becoming more and more familiar with its function. In February, [Shea] and her family visited UWM to try out the first prototype. Within seconds of putting it on, [Shea] was already excitedly picking things up! The hand works by using wrist movement to open and close the hand — it’s relatively limited for now, but compared to not having fingers, it was an amazing new experience for [Shea].
As [Flood] puts it:
It made my year to see her pick something up with her new hand, it had to be one of the coolest feelings I’ve ever experienced.
They will continue working on refining and redesigning the hand with her, which will also be made available online for all, aptly called “Shea’s Hand”. Doesn’t this just make you want to get out there and help someone, like her?
More information about E-Nable and the project “Shea’s Hand” can be found on their blog.