March 25, 2018
March 25, 2018
March 27, 2018
Human-centered design (HCD) is a design methodology that enables designers to intimately integrate the needs of the users into the design solutions via an iterative process of Observation, Ideation, Rapid Prototyping, User Feedback, and Implementation. In this work, we document the 10-week summer research internship of a team of 5 community college mechanical engineering students, led by two mechanical engineering senior student mentors and a mechanical engineering faculty at a 4-year college, in using the principle of HCD to solve a real-world problem. The project began with the significant problem of children suffering from congenital upper body limb deficiency or partial hand loss due to traumatic amputation. It is estimated that about 1,500 babies are born each year in the United States with upper limb reduction defects, which may create significant functional limitations for the child. The research conducted for this paper focuses primarily on devices which have been fabricated for children with partial hand defects or amputations, specifically for those children whose wrists are still fully functional. Technologically advanced and commercially available myoelectric prosthetics are expensive, costing upwards of four thousand dollars. The issue of cost is exacerbated by the fact that children can outgrow their prostheses relatively quickly, requiring the fitting of new prostheses on an annual basis. In addition, due to the utilization of advanced electronics in commercial myoelectric prostheses, durability for use by children is a concern. Alternatively, purely mechanical and body-actuated prosthetics are also available but only perform basic single-grip functionality. With these two categories of prosthetics, users are forced to choose between high cost and limited functionality. This research seeks to bridge that gap by providing a low-cost, 3D printable prosthetic hand with improved functionality. In order to enhance prosthetic functionality, increasing grip diversity was a primary focus. This was done by adding a mechanism which enables the ability to control fingers individually, thus allowing the user to handle smaller items with a more precise, two or three-finger grip. A grip lock has also been implemented in order to reduce fatigue during extended use. Multiple tests were devised in order to test the effectiveness of the design modifications made, with results showing marked improvements over a standard prosthetic in certain use cases. Our goal with these modifications is to increase the number of children with upper limb loss to be able to use 3D printed prosthetics and pass a series of tests to show the improvements. Based on post-internship interviews of the research students, noticeable and meaningful learnings and professional growth were reported. In particular, the summer research experience deepened the students’ understanding of and readiness for demanding research, and kindled and/or reinforced the students’ motivation to pursue a master’s degree in a STEM field. Through working closely with student mentors and faculty, they gained valuable insights into how scientific workers work on real problems and the elements of the research process. Overall, the summer research internship has been an extraordinarily fulfilling and remarkable professional growth experience for all involved.
Carroll, R., & Carrozza, B., & Ordonez, Y., & Sanchez, E., & Lee, A., & Enriquez, A. G., & Pong, W., & Zhang, X., & Mahmoodi, H., & Jiang, Z., & Chen, C., & Jiang, H., & Teh, K. S. (2018, March), Learning Assistive Device Design Through the Creation of 3D Printed Children's Prosthetics with Augmented Grip Diversity Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Zone IV Conference, Boulder, Colorado. https://peer.asee.org/29621
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