As it turns out, the person with an amputation we are working with for our upcoming press event is left-handed while the hand we brought down was right-handed. Thankfully, we were able to 3D print the parts necessary to convert our hand to a left one relatively quickly. The trickiest part was stuffing as many electronics as possible into the hand without damaging them.
Mary, David Krupa (the Director of the Range of Motion Project who we're working with down here), and I visited the US Embassy in Ecuador today to demo our prosthetic hand today. Because computers and other electronic devices weren't allowed in the Embassy, we had to work hard in order to get everything working on the hand alone. Here's a video of us testing the hand last night in the hotel room with just open/close functionality:
We had to receive special permission to bring the prosthesis into the Embassy, where we met around 5 executives who had funded Mary and I to come down. It turns out we aptly chose the right coke bottle though because the name on it--Alexandra--is also the name of one of the embassy executives who brought us down. The demo was a success and we were able to show everyone just how our low-cost prosthetic hand could be controlled myoelectrically, even though it was only able to open and close. We weren't allowed to take pictures or video inside, but we plan on having a media/press event next Thursday where we will hopefully demonstrate more pattern recognition movements (e.g. three jaw-chuck and fine pinch) on a patient with a transradial ampuation.
Here are some videos of us failing:
Getting ready for the meeting with the US Embassy did not mean that we could not have some fun. Last Sunday, Aadeel and I joined David Krupa (our collaborator who directs the Range of Motion Project) and his family and friends on a fishing trip to a small trout pond up in the Andes at Papallacta. Aadeel took a pretty cool panorama.
Aadeel, David, and I caught a total of 10 fish, which was enough to feed everyone.
After we finished fishing, we ate at a restaurant right on the pond.
For every fish we let the restaurant cook for us, we received a discount on lunch. We could not help but take advantage of this by getting a traditional Ecuadorean dish, pescado al ajillo.
After lunch, we went on a short stroll in the Andes and came across Pride Rock.
Pretty soon, the high altitude and full stomach got to me, but I guess Aadeel was not completely full.
We soon left to see the Divide, where the rivers of the Amazon begin to form. The water here was so clear that we could see the individual grains of sand forming the riverbed.
Of course, all good times unfortunately come to an end. After we headed down from the Andes, it was time to go back to work and get ready for our meeting with the US Embassy.
Work hard, play hard, as people say.
We are working very hard to get our prosthetic hand to work well enough to present to the US Embassy. As a result, we will wait until after then to post about the awesome things we have been doing between Sunday and this upcoming Tuesday.
On Saturday, Aadeel and I finally arrived in Quito, Ecuador! I say finally because we were actually supposed to be here Friday, but our flight was cancelled due to thunderstorms in Atlanta. As a result, we were forced to sleep in the airport. Pro tip: If one ever has to sleep in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, don't make the same mistake we did and sleep in Concourse E. Instead, go to Concourse F. As we found out after the fact, Delta gave out red blankets there. Luckily though, despite a scare that we would not arrive until Sunday night, we made it in Saturday afternoon with all of our equipment intact!
So, why are we here enjoying this lovely hotel view, courtesy of the US Embassy?
Earlier this year, Aadeel and Patrick began a collaboration with David Krupa and the Range of Motion Project (ROMP) to provide prostheses to the people of Ecuador who cannot afford them. The US Embassy in Ecuador is supporting our efforts to bring state-of-the-art technology to low-cost prostheses while working to solve issues affecting prostheses users all over the world. We are currently focused on developing upper limb, myoelectric prostheses, which are controlled by electrical signals generated when patients contract their intact muscles.
We hope that our work here will not only help Ecuadorians, but also patients in more developed nations who face similar challenges in terms of cost and ease of use.