Julian Omidi discusses the work of three high school students and their teacher, who designed a prosthetic hand for a 2-year-old boy.
Three high school students in Leander, Texas have helped give a young boy a hand – literally.
The boy, two-year-old Zaxton, was born with only his thumb and forefinger on this left hand. His older brother, Christian, appealed to his former robotics teacher from Leander High School to help him to use the 3D printer to fabricate a prosthetic design first created in South Africa. But because the design was originally intended for an adult and couldn’t be modified for a 2-year-old, the teacher enlisted three of his students to draft an entirely new model.
The students, Lexi Wilson, James Bell and Jacob Ostrander, with the help of teacher Herb Wasson, began designing a prototype for the hand using the electronic equipment from the school. The teenagers often arrived at 7am and stayed until 6pm just to perfect the plans. Ultimately, using the 3D printer, they began printing out models and testing them.
The first few were incorrectly sized, but by the fifth hand, they managed to create a very easy-to-manipulate prosthetic with fingers that can close when the wrist is flexed. Zaxton, who has what is known as a cleft hand, can close his thumb and pinky finger together already, but the added fingers enable him to grasp objects with more ease and security.
The 2-year-old loves his new hand, but the work isn’t over yet. The team plans on modifying it even further for ease of use. Also, the boy will have to have several versions throughout his youth, since he will grow out of his devices very quickly.
The prosthetic design earned the students a win at the Skills USA State competition. The Leander High School students hope to enter their design at the Skills USA National in Kansas City in June. Skills USA is an organization dedicated to students and teachers of vocational and industrial arts, including health care.
The students are currently seeking donations for their week-long trip for the competition. They have set up a fund in order to pay for their accommodations.
Although they are eager to enter their device in the national contest, the point of the whole experiment was to give a young boy the opportunity to have full use of his hand. Giving a child the opportunity to have a fuller and richer future was the real reward, regardless of the competition.
We at Civic Duty salute these kids and their teacher for their devotion to the wellbeing of a little boy. Their device might not only give this child the opportunity to have full use of his hand, but their design could help many other kids and adults fabricate prosthetics efficiently. We wish the kids the best of luck with the upcoming competition!
 Betts, Kris: Leander HS students create prosthetic hand for young boy KVUE 4/9/2014 http://www.kvue.com/news/Leander-High-School-students-create-prosthetic-hand-for-young-boy-254659991.html