If you stepped foot into the Innovation Co-Lab this summer, you would have most likely seen the familiar faces of Emily Shannon, Joel Tewksbury and Gabriel Antoniak, working tirelessly on a two-year project of a lifetime. The three BME seniors represent the Duke chapter of eNABLE, an international community that shares open-source files and designs for 3-D printed prosthetics. Their project? A 3-D printed arm for a growing Haitian boy named Chris.
The idea first came about through Emily’s summer church trip to Haiti where she spotted a young boy missing half of his left arm from across the street. From there, she knew eNABLE at Duke could help him.
This project however, was a little different from the prosthetics eNABLE delivered to the local Durham community. Not only was there the obvious uncertainty involved with prototyping a prosthetic arm for a recipient who lived 1200 miles away, the group also had to question the financial and traveling logistics of the project, especially when Haiti was on the Duke’s Restricted Regions List.
With traveling aid from The Given Limb Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving lives of amputee veterans founded by two Duke Engineering alumni, and a long-time coming “ok” from Provost Sally Kornbluth and chair of the Global Travel Advisory Committee, Eric Mlyn, the group was able to jumpstart their designs. A split trip to Haiti was decided to first gather measurements and then to deliver the final product. The process included a plaster cast, a 3D scan, copious measurements and having multiple prototypes that could be adjusted and fixed for little details without the need of a 3-D printer onsite.
The design accounted for sizing, tightness, grip and furthermore, replacement parts for when Chris got older. At Duke, the group worked tirelessly to improve the functionality of the device to make sure the arm was as close to perfect as it could be upon delivery. The delivery of the final arm by Emily and Joel was an anxious process; the two hoped that any obstacle could be fixed with the supplies that they had brought. In the end, only a few minor adjustments were needed, and Chris gained new abilities with his prosthetic that day.
From the Duke Innovation Co-Lab all the way to Haiti, the impact of Emily, Joel and Gabriel was an experience the three seniors will never forget! Read more about their incredible story here: http://pratt.duke.edu/news/printing-outside-borders