Teens from West Catholic High School built a robotic hand for a little girl born without fingers. The perfect Christmas gift was presented to 4-year-old Harmony Taylor a week before Christmas. Little Harmony, from Cedar Springs, Michigan, outgrew the prosthetic device she once had and her insurance would not fund a replacement. Thanks to some amazing teenagers, who are part of a robotics class, Harmony has a new right hand.
Harmony was born without a right hand due to a limb difference disorder. The first prosthetic hand the little girl had cost $5,000 but Harmony grew out of it pretty quickly. Melanie Peterman, the child’s mother, said insurance refused to cover a replacement and her family could not afford to buy another one.
The Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Center in Michigan, according to Business Insider, helped connect Harmony and her family to the robotics class at West Catholic High. An image of the child’s hand was created with a 3D printer Harmony’s teacher found for the class.
The teens spent six weeks crafting and building the hand with the printer that was donated to their school. They were so dedicated to giving Harmony an early Christmas present they spent at least two extra hours in the evening working hard on the device.
The robotics hand is made of plastic and elastic cables which reflect the movements of the child’s wrist. This robo-hand can bend, pick up things and even catch a ball.
Finally the teens were finished and could give little Harmony a happy and much-needed Christmas gift. Two students, Tim Liu and Aimee Kalczuk, presented Harmony with her surprise on Thursday morning at school; just a week before Christmas. The class wants her to test out the hand for a couple of weeks after which the robotics team will make any necessary adjustment to ensure that the hand works as perfectly as possible for Harmony.
Liu said it really felt good to be able to use their technology to do something like this to change Harmony’s life. The teens said it is really a great opportunity to be able to help other people. Kalczuk said, “Harmony really needs a hand to help her function more like the rest of us. Most things are built for people with two hands.”
In addition to the robo-hand they also presented her with a gift bag, complete with pink fingernail polish. Harmony was so excited about her new hand that she could hardly wait to use the pink nail polish.
Harmony’s mother was elated with the work the teens had done. Peterson said the robo-hand will allow her daughter the freedom to do things she couldn’t do prior; even with her first prosthetic. This will make her more independent than she’s ever been due to her birth defect. Peterson said there are many things that you need two hands for like tying shoes, certain games played at school; or something most take for granted, scratching the other hand.
Harmony’s robotic arm is made of a plastic cuff that is snugly fit to her hand and has prosthetic fingers attached. According to Robohand’s website, the company uses medical orthoplastic that is custom molded to the wearer in order to limit the possibility of infections, injury and skin lesions. The orthoplastic used by Robohand is washable, breathable and medically approved for this type of use. The result is a 3D-printed prosthetic hand that is safe, functional and even cost-effective, according to Robohand.
Across the country classrooms are being exposed to greater technology with use of 3D printers. The class of teens at West Catholic High School has clearly completed an amazing task with theirs. A 3D printer generally costs about $1,300, but thanks to a local person willing to help one was donated to the teens.
While many people are hoping for smart phones, tablets, clothes and designer bags, a 4-year-old little girl out of Cedar Springs, Michigan received the best gift that she could have asked for, a robotic arm to allow her more freedom than she’s ever known.
When insurance turned Harmony Taylor and her family down teens from West Catholic High School built and presented her with a robotic arm. Thanks to some amazing teenagers who are part of a robotics class Harmony now has a new right hand for Christmas.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)