Yesterday was one of the most fulfilling days I’ve had with ROMP. That’s saying a lot because there have also been countless other days where I’ve seen and been a part of ROMP doing amazing things to restore mobility (fitting an ankle on the leg of a dancer, helping assemble an entire arm for a guy my age who lost both of his, mountain climbing with amputees, to name a few). Shockingly, yesterday’s experience didn’t even involve amputees. Yet.
Yesterday I went back to school a little early. I spent the day with two mechatronics students at la Escuela Politécnica del Éjercito in the lab. Our goal for the morning was to quantify forces that different prosthetic hands could handle. We tested three different hands: the Victoria Hand which is a complex hand designed by a University of Toronto team, the Hackberry Hand which is an open-source electronic design, and the FlexyHand which is another open-source hand that is printed using flexible, rubbery material. Each of the hands were subjected to ten tests. I designed the test protocol to reflect the kinds of forces the hands would be exposed to in everyday life. The tests simulated activities like lifting a grocery bag, pushing a button, and grasping various objects. We also included a few punch, slap, and chop tests, just to see what the hands were capable of.
At 7:00 AM (early for Ecuador) I met the two students and we bussed to their university. It was interesting to compare ESPE with Duke. You’d be surprised by the similarities after you look past surface level. We got to the lab and the technician got us set up. We began the tests and I became very appreciative that we had four people there as we had to have one or two people manipulate the hands, one person take pictures, and one person take readings. It was interesting trying to communicate complex physics words without being able to say them in Spanish. I learned a lot.
I have yet to analyze the data, but these tests will definitely give us valuable insight. I was surprised both by what hands could do and what they couldn’t. This information will be invaluable to our continuing R&D on the hands and will definitely be of use to clinical trial patients that will be testing the Victoria Hand soon.
Adding to yesterday’s fun, Collin figured out how to set up the camera for the cloud 3D printing service I’ve been working on setting up. This means it’s fully functional and can be used to enable ROMP to do some amazing things with remote treatment.
Next weekend, Collin and I embark on the annual climbing for ROMP excursion. The goal is for our team of amputee and non-amputee climbers to summit Cayambe. We can’t wait! Later this week I’ll post a link for you to donate to ROMP in solidarity with our climb if you’ve been inspired by ROMP’s work.
Also, I’m writing this on the beach in the Galapagos. So life is good.