Back from trip to Honduras, preparing for trip to Moscow, eager to share some lessons learned.

  • e-NABLE Guala is a great team, and an exemplary model e-NABLE chapter.
    • They use Facebook and Messenger rather than web pages and forms.
    • They are considering a regional e-NABLE conference in December or January.  (Encourage them!)
    • They should post more.  They have a lot to teach.  (This is probably true for many chapters!  see also
    • The e-NABLE Hands for Learning  program (aka SEDTECH) that we piloted with Matt Campana Hands of Gratitude Program has great promise…
      1. to provide new outlets for volunteer-made non-custom hands
      2. for teaching teachers and students about 3D-printing, prosthetics, and e-NABLE
      3. to make connections with new recipients and new volunteers
      4. for sponsoring devices, chapters, and the global network

    • Christian and Juan both have one above elbow and one below-elbow amputation.  Both have below-elbow e-NABLE arms. Both need  their above-elbow arms.   They are great test-pilots,  critics, and success stories.

      • They both were unable to get employment after their accidents, and have become entrepreneurs using their e-NABLE arms every day. Christian has a shoe store. Juan a decorative plant store.
      • Social functions of arms are critical.

    1. When asked what their arms were most valuable for, Juan said holding his little daughter’s hand. Christian said fist-bumps with his buddies.

    2. Inclusion may well be more fundamental than accessibility or dexterity, which is why cosmesis counts so much.

    3. But cosmesis does not have to mean “natural-looking”. Both of these guys have handsome black arms that look “cool”, not natural. (Christian and a friend re-did his sleeve in sheet-metal!)   Guala’s intake process includes an interview to determine how an individual’s new arm can be attractive and expressive of his or her social self.  It works.

    4. Elbow-actuated arm shortcomings:
    * can’t bring hand to mouth (a spring would address this)
    * can’t hold fork (fork/spoon holder needed)
    * More generally, a strong  adjustable tool-gripper is needed. Christian wants to weld again.

                 5.  For near-shoulder amputations, we need a good suspension system.

    • Jennifer taught me that it’s possible to stretch a Phoenix hand laterally on the spot to make it fit a wide palm or idiosycratic palm (by heating it up).

    1. the process might be enhanced by a device like an adjustable Shoe Stretcher to keep essential components like hinges in alignment when thermoforming
    2. the palm mesh for the phoenix hand should probably be everyone’s default palm;  it provides more surface, and it’s thermoformable.
    3. even if a custom device is in the offing, it may make sense (and is certainly rewarding) to deliver an interim device.

    • Fabian and Marcos taught me that for a partial-hander with palm too small to bend a wrist…  

    1. a gripper hand with adjustowrap sleeve is a great solution.  They should be kept on hand.

    2. A hHollowed-out gripper hand that encloses the palm could be even better.  Because an adjustowrap or other forearem sleeve  suspends the device, we should consider opening up the interior so that the partial palm is available to feel and interact with the gripped object and outside world.

    • Attempting to scan Marcos hand with a sense scanner taught me (once again) that

    1. hand-held scanners are useful but need practice, steady hands, and patience (not my strong suits)
    2. we ought to be able to perfect a simple out-of-the-box suspend-from-the-ceiling device that can produce a perfect scan.
    3.  We had fun trying.

    In short, learned a lot.

    Kudos to Melvin for organizing, Matt Campana and Hands of Gratitude for sponsoring, and the Guala team for everything!

    Categories: Uncategorized


    Founder, e-NABLE.

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