Collaborators offer free prosthetic finger design

Richard Van As, of South Africa, and Ivan Owen, of Washington State, have created a prototype prosthetic finger for amputees. However, instead of applying for a patent, Van As and Owen are offering their product design to the public for free.

Van As, who lost four fingers from his right hand in May 2011, contacted Owen after watching a video of Owen’s mechanical hand prop, and asked if he would be willing to help create a prosthetic finger that would help him regain some of his lost mobility. By exchanging emails, photos and drawings while conversing via Skype, the two men began to construct a working prototype held in place by a hand mount. The prototype acts like a glove and is formed to suit the amputee’s hand, while the prosthetic finger consists of a rigid lever arm, pulleys and finger tip with grip pad. Van As and Owen decided to offer the design for free to help other amputees benefit from their research. Eventually, the two plan to offer the prosthetic finger at no cost, as long as funding can pay for all the necessary materials. They are also considering developing the prosthesis as an inexpensive self-assembly kit.

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