Create a DIY prothesis + orthesis for Francisco with a Brachial plexus injury

Today Francisco from Spain who works at the European Patent office here in Munich and lives close to the lab visited me at Erfindergarden.

As a baby he weighted 5 kg and is arm got hurt at birth when they tried to pull him out, fearing that he would smother.

He has the same strength in the injured right arm as in the left arm but his lower arm is shorter then his lift arm and he his hand is smaller and he has little strenght in his fingers.

When he drives a car with two hands his left arm gets tired after a while so he only uses is left arm suffering from back pain as he is not sitting straight.

I came to us because he saw all this DIY prothesis arms with hands but has not seen a solution for his special orthotics case. He is thinking about some kind of orthesis to enhance is arm and make it 15 to 20 cm longer (that would be a prothesis) and make his finger stronger so he get get a better grip (that would be a orthesis).

I am completely new to this field and first wanted to ask the international fablab community if they had similar cases. Do you know of a similar project?

Update: from the Fab crowd I am hearing that the medical term for that condition is “Brachial plexus injury”

What’s the between Orthotics Prosthetics? The major difference between orthotics and prosthetics is that while an orthotic device is used to enhance a person’s limb, a prosthetic device is used to replace a limb entirely.

The medical term is Brachial Plexus injury.

little google search on that topic:

I am writing a post asking for this special case in the e nable forum but it does not seem very active.

I will print out as a pratice this Cyborg Beast hand

Only it seems people have problems printing the model and there are errors and no step files

The original Site of the Cyborg beast is. The project ist from Omaha College of Eduction.

I just had a called my friend Adriana Cabera who worked on a orthesis for her fabacademy at Kamp Linfort.

I learned from here that in Franciscos case I would need to make a prothesis to make the arm longer and then an orthesis to give him more grip in his hand. For an everyday durable prothesis companies like Otto Bock or Ossur would charge around 10.000 €. A DIY prothesis would be more for a special occasion like driving.

She adviced to start with a simple hand that would be operated manually before I start anything bionic. So I will print out the enable hand and start from there.

From a call to my insurance company TKK this morning I learned that orthesises and prosthesis can be covered by insurance if a doctors finds it necessary for the patients daily life and you give them a good estimate. They have partners with whom they work with everywhere. I think in Franciscos case if he can proof that he gets back pain driving and working he will get a device covered by insurance so the first step is also to find a got orthopadic in Munich.

A search on the TKK website gave me orthopadic partners near my postcode. I will visit Sanitätshaus Bezdiek today.

This company seems to have a solution for brachial plexus building up on some MIT technology. I will contact them to find our more information on the cost and availability.

I just came back from a orthopedic house and they were very nice and open and connected me with their orthopedic specialist which I will meet next Wednesday and upfront send him infos about this case.

Salman informed me about this open source bionic hand project.

Yesterday I printed the the gauntlet, 4 Fingers and 4 finger phalanges. Now I am printing the thumb parts. Learning also so much about all the different bones in a hand. This afternoon I will stop by Schrauben Preisinger to get the correct screws to mount this thing together.

In the instruction of the Cyborg beast I am printing it says due to the low strenght of the grip it is not safe for operating a vehicle I wonder if there are solutions that are certified and safe for operating a vehicle as this is one of the use cases Francisco was mentioning.

Good news. The e-Nable Community is alive! I found an active google+ Community and I just realized that I have talked to Jon Schull the founder of e-Nable in Auray this summer! The maker world is small then I thought. I posted this forum post their and hope I can some insights.

I just found the Dexterity Hand on thingiverse over the e-nable google+ community. Seems to be a very new design and even the pins are 3D printed so no screws need to be bought. I will also start printing this.

Francisco and me are very excited as in this video a kid with the same condition is using a new hand Dominic uploaded to thingiverse just two day ago. What a coincidence! I am printing the hole hand out at the moment and will try to make a hand that fits Francisco right after I have build that one together.

Sunday 2. December Update:

I finished the printing of the parts of the Cyborg beast and almost have all the parts finished for the Dexterity hand. Next week I will try to source the straps, the strings and the screws.

I have talked to my neighbour who happens to by a orthopedic who has not head anything about DIY prothesises or e-nable which shows me that the doctors community really still lives in a bubble. But she was very interested and open to help.

I also got an answer from Cheng over at the e-enable Community Learning that Orthotists have been trying to provide a decent solution to this for a very long time without satisfactory success. I am learning that this condition is also called Erb’s palsy and that I need to wait that Francisco sends me the anaylisis that was already made to see how I can best help him.

Let’s see if I can reach Professor Woodie Flowers at MIT …

I am just writing on the Myomo website to see if this device is available outside the US.

Today I also came across this 3D printed arm brace which you can mold to your hand with hot water. I will also print it as a test.

I am browsing youtube to check out what they have done there …