We’ve written about prosthetics a lot lately; particularly, prosthetics that are cool, customized extensions of the wearer’s personality rather than something to be hidden. In August we first covered Naked Prosthetics, the Washington-based startup that specializes in bio-mechanical prosthetic fingers (BMF) for those who have lost a phalange or two. Today, Naked Prosthetics announced the release of their latest BMF device, the MCPDriver.
The MCPDriver is named for the MCP joint, which is the more formal name for the first knuckle, and is designed for users who have lost a finger up to that point. Obviously, an amputation of that magnitude leaves the amputee with a significant loss of ability. The MCPDriver seeks to restore as much of that ability as possible with a double-articulating linkage system. The prosthetic aims to match the length, grip strength and dexterity of the user’s natural finger.
The prosthetic is 3D printed in stainless steel and nylon polymer. The steel frame enables the patient to firmly grasp objects, and can accommodate single or multiple amputations. Silicone pads are embedded in the prosthesis, allowing the patient to grip a variety of objects while maintaining a natural feel. Like the company’s other prostheses, the MCPDriver is worn like a ring, slipped easily onto the finger without irritating any sensitive areas. A hand strap made of durable, washable silicone holds the prosthesis securely in place without interfering with the tactile sensation of the palm.
The beauty of 3D printed prosthetic devices is how easy they are to precisely conform to the user’s body. Naked Prosthetics has a staff of engineers that meticulously create each device, tweaking their designs to accommodate scar tissue and other abnormalities. The completed prostheses mimic the movement of an actual human hand so closely that there is very little an amputee cannot do once the device has been fitted. Once the patient’s information has been received, it takes about 10 to 12 weeks for their prosthetic to be completed. After about three to six months of continuously wearing the device, patients are expected to be able to maintain a grip strength of approximately 10 to 12 pounds.
Naked Prosthetics, which was founded by Colin MacDuff under the original name RCM Enterprise, got a pretty astonishing start when MacDuff, an avid mountain biker who had lost a finger in an accident, decided to build his own prosthesis out of bicycle parts. It worked so well that he made a career out of it, though with more advanced technology than was involved in his original creation. A BMF device, in addition to returning everyday abilities to amputees, also has a number of other health benefits. It can reduce swelling, increase circulation, and provide support to adjacent finger joints. It also acts as a protective shield for the sensitive amputation site, while still allowing it access to air. The company compares the device to an exoskeleton, which is pretty cool-sounding even before you know about its benefits. The release of the MCDriver shows that the company is serious about tailoring its prosthetics to every type of finger amputation, and giving the finger to anyone who says that loss of a body part means loss of ability. Discuss this story in the Naked Prosthetics forum thread on 3DPB.com.