With an inexpensive, body-powered prosthetic hand that visually replicates an amputee’s lost hand, Eric Ronning, a junior in the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) mechanical engineering department, earned second place in the undergraduate division of the 2012 National Collegiate Inventors Competition.
Ronning used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of an amputee’s existing hand coupled with high-end three-dimensional (3D) printing technology to create and print a lifelike prosthesis, which includes fully hinged fingers. The ReHand, as Ronning has named his device, draws on the same shoulder harness that enables users of body-powered prosthetic hooks to grip and release objects. An alternative to both the hook and the myoelectric prosthesis, the ReHand can attach to an existing body-powered prosthetic socket.
“It’s not just a better looking prosthetic,” Ronning said. “It’s a mirror image [of the amputated hand], so it’s a lot more personal.”
The competition was sponsored by the Abbott Fund, the nonprofit foundation of the global healthcare company Abbott; the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Ronning’s first version of a prosthetic hand, an inexpensive model designed for use by individuals with amputations in developing countries, earned awards at the 2012 UW-Madison Innovation Days competition.
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.