According to the Amputee Coalition, there are about 2 million people living with limb loss currently in the United States. Most health insurances have an annual limit that patients can spend on devices which causes many patients unable to afford the high-tech functional prosthetics that can range anywhere from $10,000-$50,000 not including repairs or modifications. With the ever-increasing price of functional prosthetics, we wanted to create affordable prosthetics that would be available to a lower-income population.
For this reason, we decided to work on a loss cost alternative that would provide a person the opportunity to interact with and use a much more affordable prosthetic that would still allow them the basic functions they had lost. One such person is Tara Ojos, who was born without the lower part of her arm. She has grown all her life without her lower forearm and she is now in her twenties who has never been able to afford a prosthetic. We want to help thousands of people like Tara, people who have a vascular disease, people who have gone through horrendous accidents, people who have served overseas and fought for our protection and security, so we have decided to build our first prosthetic for her.
We plan to use designs downloaded from a free source called E-Nable and are currently doing research into different materials, such as the type of filament, to find the best material to suit all the user needs. We are also investing time into research biomechanics to help our designs be most similar to anatomical extremities to aide in brain familiarity. The main concern is having a strong material that will be able to endure a variety of different weather environments without distortion while also being cheap and cost effective. Once we have all of the supplies, we are going to build Tara the prosthetic hand from the online designs and then do an analysis with her about the pros and cons of the current design as well as obtain her feedback from her prosthetic which can help us improve our future designs. After analysis, we hope to take those designs and begin modifying them to Tara’s specific needs and then eventually moving into the world of lower extremity prosthetics.