A student in the University of Hartford (UHart), Connecticut, Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics (MSPO) program is using her knowledge to develop what she hopes will be the most realistic prosthetic finger on the market. While observing patients’ use of prosthetic hands, Casey Beasley noticed there was much room for improvement so she decided to create a new finger for her University Honors project. Under the guidance of Michael Wininger, PhD, an assistant professor with the UHart College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Beasley spent last summer and fall developing 12 working prototypes.
The prototype, known as a biomimetic finger because it mimics the function and structure of a natural finger, includes a “fat pad simulant.” Beasley said this pad “takes on a key characteristic of the natural human grasp: a sort of soft tissue compliance that aids our fingers in securely grasping many objects.” In addition, Beasley’s creation uses continuously adjustable phalangeal segments so there is a more customized fit for the patient while still making it possible to mass-manufacture the fingers.
This spring, three of Beasley’s classmates joined the project, and all are focused on expanding the finger design to a complete hand prototype. A Connecticut Space Grant Consortium Student Project Grant award of $932 will help with the next step, which is to send the best prototype out for machining and then develop the electronics to make it work.
Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by UHart.