Last October, a US Navy Veteran and retired pipe fitter, Howard Kamarata, was working on a home project and the miter saw he was using grabbed the piece of wood he was holding and threw it toward him and his left hand slipped under the blade.
He had cut off four of his fingers, just above the middle knuckles and the surgeons were only able to save the pinky finger, leaving him with 3 nubs where his pointer, middle and ring fingers use to be.
A week or so after the accident, Howard’s wife, Pat, encouraged him to get out of the house and attend a church function with her. That is where he ran into Casey Barrett, an industrial designer who had seen a video of a little boy named Liam – using a 3D printed hand that had been created for him by two men – Ivan Owen, a prop maker in the USA and Richard Van As, a carpenter in South Africa.
After their initial hand design had been created and shared open source, Ivan had gone on to work on other projects and started collaborating with the e-NABLE community on making other designs.
There was a woman named Nancy, that lived near Ivan who had lost part of her thumb due to disease and he had been working with her to create a partial thumb design for her to be able to play the thumb harp with her prominent hand once again – and with her help and the help of another local man, B.J., who had lost his fingers in an industrial accident - he created the “Partial Finger Prototype” design.
Ivan uploaded the files for the prototype and instructions to his thingiverse page and hoped that someone would come along and improve the design for others who may want to try them – that person was Casey Barrett.
Casey found the files that had been uploaded and started putting together a partial finger prosthetic for Howard with a glove from home depot, some high strength fishing line and screws.
Howard tells us that living in Arizona, the glove was just too much to handle in the heat – so Casey got to work on designing a new version that would remove the need to secure the hand plate to a glove. They acquired some splint material and glued it directly to that and is using medical grade neoprene for padding.
Casey and Howard are now working on creating 3 segments in the fingers as well as experimenting with the flexible materials used in the Flexyhand design. We are looking forward to seeing their results!
For now – Howard says that he is learning how to do something new with his fingers almost every day. He can pick up cups and water bottles, play cards with his friends, carry and balance plates once again and many other tasks he didn’t think would be possible after losing his fingers.
Howard and Casey aren’t stopping at just making a set of replacement fingers for just Howard – they have partnered with Matt Augee of the RecFX Foundation – with the hopes of creating 3D printed prosthetic fingers and hands for those in need – with a focus on helping Veterans and Military families at no cost.
Please click the image above to watch a video interview with Howard, Casey and Matt about their project.
They are calling it “The Hands Up Prosthetic Project.“
For more information on the RecFX project – please visit their website.
This is the power of the open source community.
Sharing of ideas…giving designs away so that what starts as something that can help one person….can find it’s way to someone else who can use it to help another…and watch it spread and change lives.
We look forward to seeing where this design is in another year and how many Wounded Warriors and others it may help!