The first prosthetic device designed by this group was to help a disabled individual operate an agricultural tractor. This gentleman wanted is a transradial, unilateral upper extremity amputee and owns his own farm. He wanted to be able to use his tractor with the confidence as if he had no disability. We took this project on as an undergraduate mechanical engineering capstone design project. Putting design and engineering skills to a philanthropic cause struck a cord in the members of the initial student team. The Occusthetics project was born out of that feeling to want to continue helping people.
The Farm Arm
The Farm Arm device is a rugged, task-specific prosthetic adapter that enables agricultural workers to operate heavy machinery. Our solution optimizes ergonomics, increases worker safety, and extends device lifetime in harsh environments over general use prosthetics, which are insufficiently functional and durable for manual labor tasks. The design eliminates the need for the grasping mechanism that hands use to control machinery. A unilateral upper extremity amputee farmer provided design validation on the tractor he uses everyday on his farm in Maine. We received quotes for manufacturing the three main components and are currently pushing towards commercialization. Keep up with the progress of this specific project at thefarmarm.org.
The Farm Pit
This project started to help another transradial, unilateral upper extremity amputee, but this time to operate a BCS walk behind tractor. This agricultural machine is used much like a walk behind snowblower and relies on the grip of a hand and articulation of a write. The engineering team designed an attachment for the BCS walk behind tractor so the controls on the effected side could be manipulated using the intact upper arm and elbow articulation.
This was the first construction-enabling prosthetic device. The cockpit and controls of an excavator differed from those of an agricultural tractor in that the controls were electric as opposed to mechanical or hydraulic and therefore required much more precise movements in order to safely and confidently operate the excavator.