1The Occupational Therapist Who Made Her Own Prosthetic Leg Out of Legos
Having an amputation below the knee is a life-changing and difficult experience, but Christina Stevens wasn't going to let it get the better of her. The 31-year-old woman lost her leg in a freak accident early in 2013 when her foot was crushed while she changed the brakes on her car.
Now, she is an internet phenomenon. A video in which she builds a prosthetic leg out of Legos has over 1,600,000 views, and it's only been live for a few months.
Ms. Stevens, who is an occupational therapist, said that she got the inspiration for the Lego stunt from a colleague who jokingly suggested it.
The amputee from St. Louis, Missouri, in the US, has also been sharing her daily experiences on Facebook and showing avid readers what it is like to lose a limb.
2The Man Who Built a Prosthetic Arm for Himself After Doctors Told Him He was Unsuitable to Have One
Just to be clear, we're not suggesting that you ignore your doctor's advice, but we've got to admire Mark Lesek, who refused to accept that he was unsuitable to receive a prosthetic arm. Lesek lost his arm in a car accident in 2008, but was told that the amputation was too high for him to receive a usable prosthetic.
Then he heard about osseointegration, a medical field involving implanting metal into bone. Doctors in Melbourne, Australia refused to perform the procedure, so Lesek flew to Sweden and went to the Branemark Osseointegration Centre where he was fitted with an $80,000 bolt that acts as a sort of artificial shoulder.
Unable to find an affordable and suitable prosthetic arm, Lesek took matters into his own hands and crafted an arm with the help of a friend at his welding and engineering business. He has also enlisted the help of a team at the University of Tasmania to develop a more agile computer-controlled arm.
This just goes to show that your parents were right -- you can do anything you want. Although, it helps if you have your own engineering lab at your disposal.
3The Chinese Man Who Spent Eight Years Building Himself Bionic Hands (After Losing Them While Building a DIY Bomb)
In 2012, a man who lost both hands when a homemade bomb exploded was finally able to create a new pair of arms after eight years of planning.
Sun Jifa could not afford the hospital's prosthetic limbs after the explosive, designed for blast fishing, detonated prematurely, but he desperately needed the use of his hands to work on the family farm. That's when the 51-year-old man from Guanmashan, Jilin province, northern China, decided to create his own bionic hands.
Sun spent eight years making prototypes before finally creating a pair of metal hands which can grip and hold thanks to a series of wires and pulleys inside the shell. Now he plans to develop the design for other similarly disabled people.
4The Craftsman Who Built Himself a Finger with Long-Distance Collaborators
When South African craftsman Richard Van As lost most of the fingers from his right hand in an industrial accident, he decided to create a prosthetic finger to regain some of his lost mobility. In order to bring this about, Richard recruited the help of Washington State native Ivan Owen, after being impressed with the latter's mechanical hand prop which he had posted on YouTube. The result could be a boon to amputees everywhere.
Despite living over 10,000 miles apart, Richard and Ivan got to work, exchanging emails, photos, and drawings while conversing via Skype in order to construct a working prototype. The arduous process of actually manufacturing the prosthetic finger began with Richard creating a plastic replica of his hand for Ivan's reference, ensuring that both were working on the same page, and from here the design was refined at length.
The current prototype is held in place by a hand mount, which acts like a glove and is formed to suit the amputee's hand. The prosthetic finger itself consists of a rigid lever arm, pulleys, and a fingertip with a grip pad.
Richard and Ivan are currently attempting to raise funds to help advance the prototype, and have just under two weeks left to reach their US$5,000 target. Rather than patent their work, they have decided to give the design away for free in order to help other people benefit from their research, and the eventual goal is to offer the prosthetic finger at no cost if funding can pay for all the relevant materials. The pair has also posited the idea of offering it to others as an inexpensive self-assembly kit.
5The Man Who Created His Own Prosthesis from Bicycle Parts
"Monster" Mike Schultz has won several medals at the X Games on both snowmobiles and motorbikes. That's impressive, right? Even more impressive is the fact that he won them while wearing a prosthetic leg which he built out of mountain bike parts.
Back in December 2008, Schultz became an extreme sports cautionary tale. He charged to pass a competitor during a snowmobile race and his sled started bouncing, pitching him off. He hit the ground so hard that it bent his left knee in the wrong direction. The accident caused him to lose his leg.
He was soon fitted with a prosthesis, but he knew that his new knee wasn't going to survive high-impact activity, so he decided to build himself a better leg.
He then asked friends at a local R&D center for mountain bike manufacturer Fox if he could use its parts and equipment to create a tougher prosthesis. He had no machining experience, but he learned, and seven months after losing his leg Schultz and his appendage, "the Moto Knee," entered the Moto X Racing Adaptive. He won silver. The next year, the X Games added Adaptive SnoCross and Schultz took gold.
6The Electronics Technician Who Built His Own Arm to Provide for His Son
On May 20, 2012, Rafael Angel Sanguino from Caracas, Venezuela had an accident with his motorcycle which left him with fractured legs, damaged internal organs, and without his left arm. While in intensive care, he learned that he was going to be a father. Doctors said that he would live a life with a disability. He decided that he had to do something to be able to see and care for his son.
With the help of an uncle who works in fabricating prostheses, an assortment of recycled materials, and his own professional knowledge of electronics, this heroic Venezuelan character built a new left arm which could help him continue his job of repairing cell phones.
The device is not particularly refined, but it has an alchemy, or a very functional kind of magic. There is a press in the prosthetic that helps the cellular technician hold the items which he needs to repair, a magnifying glass with a light that is designed to let Sanguino see the pieces and parts of a circuit more closely, and a series of sensors near his collarbone that respond to the circular motions of his body and allow even greater mobility and precision.
7The Two Hobbyists Who Created a DIY Prosthetic Hand for a 5-Year-Old Boy in South Africa
A special effects artist and a woodworker living hundreds of miles apart have pieced together a prosthetic hand for a 5-year-old South African boy who was born without fingers on his right hand.
The project came together when Liam's mom stumbled upon a blog being run by Ivan Owen and Richard Van As. Richard is the guy featured in article number 4, who made himself a prothestic finger.
Using a 3D printer, along with bits of cable, bungee cord returns, and rubber thimbles, the two men collaborated over the internet to help the little boy. Not only have they changed the life of young Liam, but they now hope to do the same for others who are looking for low-cost prosthetic alternatives. To that end, they have made their assistive technology open source and launched a fund raising campaign.
Normally, a prosthetic hand would run upwards of $10,000, if not substantially more. The Robohand, on the other "hand," only costs a few hundred dollars.
8The Teen Who Created an Inexpensive Robot Arm Controlled by Brainwaves
Advanced prosthetics have come a long way in the last few years, but the costs have also skyrocketed. A cheaper alternative may be on its way thanks to Easton LaChappelle, a 17-year-old high school student from Colorado who is using free online resources and the boom in inexpensive 3D printers to develop a functional prosthetic arm and hand. His projects have already earned him an invitation to the White House, and he's now working at NASA on the Robonaut team.
After meeting a 7-year-old girl who was wearing a state of the art prosthetic that cost an astounding US$80,000, he became determined to design and build an inexpensive alternative. He began working with Solidworks, a 3D modeling program, and looked for ready-made parts on Thingiverse, an online repository of open source models.
Soon, he had designed an arm to go with an open source hand, both of which could be printed by his friend. Excluding the cost of the 3D printer itself (in this case, a sub-$1,000 Printrbot), the total cost was about $250.
9The Father Who Built a Prosthetic Hand for His Son with a 3-D Printer After Watching an Online DIY Video
A father built a prosthetic hand for his 12-year-old son using a 3-D printer. Paul McCarthy, from Marblehead, Massachusetts, made the inexpensive yet functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon, who was born without fingers on one of his hands.
When Leon was very young, the family had been told that he needed to get used to using his hand without prosthetics and try to acquire a full range of abilities and motion. However, a doctor recently said that they should start looking at prosthetic options. Mr. McCarthy began searching for a way to help his son, whose hand did not grow due to the restricted blood flow in the womb. He came across Robohand (featured in articles number 4 and 7), which had a video posted online with instructions on how to use a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand.
The design relies on wrist movement - the downward motion creates cable tension which closes the fingers while an upwards motion closes them. Mr. McCarthy borrowed a friend's 3-D printer and then put in a month figuring out how to string, screw, and bolt together what he and his son describe as the "Frankenstein" version.
The youngster admitted that, at first, he thought the idea was "crazy," but once it was assembled he said the hand was "awesome." Leon's new hand gives him the ability to carry out tasks such as picking up a water bottle and a pencil.
The father said that the entire project cost him $10 dollars, while a prosthesis would have cost the family in excess of $30,000.