Jonathan Naber 2010 $30000 Lemelson MIT Illinois Student Prize winner 2010 [context]
Jonathan Naber developed a prosthetic arm that can be built from plastic parts, has no socket but bars and straps and is cheap to build. He also founded IPT - the Illini Prosthetic Team.
Now, I watched his presentation [below] that and went .... hm. Hasn't that been done before? Haven't we heard these third world cheap prosthetic limbs would actually be so uncomfortable to not be worn at all in the developing regions that actually were (un)lucky enough to get them? Best to really start field testing soon.
Actually, the splinter socket design is notoriously uncomfortable. No wonder these designs invite spoof videos such as this:
The device is now running for the James Dyson Award [link].
- Skin problems and skin breakdown is a major problem on stumps. Ill fitted sockets are the biggest reason. Dirty, hard to clean or porous surface on the inside of the prosthesis are the second biggest reason. Once skin breakdown or infection, eczema or blisters have started, you have to wait anywhere between days and weeks for that to heal until you can wear the arm again. This is a really serious problem. So, there are very hard and well justified reasons why I am wearing silicone liners and epoxy or carbon fiber sockets.
- Shoulder straps on prosthetic hooks for one handed amputees are the fastest way to kill their brachial plexus. You really want a different solution there. For all people that really rely on a sound intact hand, either a really good shoulder anchor that is custom built by a prosthetic technician is the way to go. Or, no prosthetic at all. Anything else should only be worn for a short amount of time. This can cause irreversible nerve damage and as opposed to the problem outlined above, this is a dead serious issue. No kidding.
So you don't go and damage other people's stumps while putting their remaining hand's nerves under pressure so they may get damaged. You just don't. It's a matter of research, decency and ethics.