By Chad Coarsey
The Bionic Glove Project is a non-profit orthotics and prosthetics research company and e-NABLE volunteer provider founded in Florida Atlantic University’s Business Incubator, Tech Runway, in Boca Raton, Florida. Chad Coarsey, co-founder, of the BGP was born with a missing hand (Adactylous Symbrachydactyly). It first started in a graduate Introduction to Bioengineering course as a project. Student projects were assigned, and Perry Weinthal, co-founder, approached Chad and asked so bluntly, “Want a hand?!”
From there they first built a myoelectric-actuated gripper for their midterm project. We spent about 16 hours in the lab with an oscilloscope and several static burned out op-amps, but we were able to get a conditionable signal! With that accomplishment, we create the full setup around a repurposed orthotic, with a 3D printed pincher. Chad was able to use it with great ease, and it was at lot of fun! They were then challenged by out professor to print a full hand for our final project, and that’s where e-NABLE came in. They printed the first raptor reloaded II for Chad at 138%, and in less than a day, he was able to use and lift heavy objects. They got some big press on the front page of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and were immediately noticed. They were contacted and developed a hand for their first recipient, a nine year old boy, Julian. The next case was for Damba, a Sierra Leonean woman who was fit with a Team Unlimbited Arm.
Innovations to the O and P Field
As a user and bioengineer, Chad was able to identify that there was sufficient limitation in pronation and supination movements of the arm. These are the arm movements that allow you to hold your palm up and palm down. This is a crucial movement and naturally allows people to grip and adjust the position of the arm to accommodate close objects. Rather than attempt to thermoform a new gauntlet, they did some editing in Autodesk’s Meshmixer which removed material of the gauntlet away from area of the ulnar prominence (pointy arm bone, by the outside of the wrist). This lead to a paper presentation at the 42nd annual American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists conference. There they presented a paper on the methods and creation of the modification from the e-NABLE Raptor Reloaded 2 device. The paper received great response from the O and P community, and many speakers in response shared their enthusiasm of the integration of new technology to lower the cost and increase the availability of devices for upper limb amputees.
Current and Future Aspirations
Currently, Chad is wearing a 153% scale of the Raptor Reloaded 2 due to the increase in muscle mass accommodation and reverse of atrophy from use. This highlights the usefulness of 3-D printed prosthetic and orthotic devices as there is a potential need to be able to scale around and resize cases when following up. Although Chad does not wear it everyday nor hour, it does help him with an extra hand in the lab or when running through an airport with carry-ons. The BGP recently began partnering with local hospitals and clinicians to involve them in an upcoming research study. Innovation requires the push into new technology, and the BGP has begun 3D scanning using the low cost Structure Sensor. This technology has the potential to enable custom fit prosthetic and orthotic devices at the point-of-care. The BGP has already received positive preliminary results, and is proving to be a simple and streamlined process with the right collaboration. Now instead of scaling or modifying an open source model to design for someone, they are able to design around the 3D scan of someone and implement those scans into customized devices. The next phase will to be finding a standardized protocol of scanning, CADing, and device fitting as streamlined as possible, with the recipient’s health and safety at the forefront.
Florida Atlantic University, FAU’s Tech Runway, FAU High School Stem Lab, FAU Engineering, FAU iSense Lab, Tech Garage / StemHQ and the very generous support from The Quantum Foundation. Dr. Aaron Berger with Miami Children’s, Patricia Anastacio, Kenneth Jeffers, and Faulk Prosthetics.