Batman Bailey…it has a good ring to it right?! That’s what they thought during the sketch-up stage of designing the 3-fingered Raptor Reloaded modified design for a 12-year-old boy out of St. Louis. While character customization was optimized during the fabrication of Bailey’s “Dark Knight” themed hand, they also made sure that he optimized his current range of motion. Needless to say, Bailey was blown away at the “coolness” factor that his new hand carried with it, but he was also able to jump head-first into utilizing it as a tool in his everyday life.
The “they” in this story is a group of students, undergraduate- and graduate-level, from Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts. Joe Fairley, who began the college Chapter in early September 2015, is currently a graduate fellow in the Exercise and Sports Science Master’s Degree Program. After having success building a sustainable Chapter at Siena College in his senior year as a Physics undergrad, Fairley and the Siena Chapter personally delivered one hand to a 5-year-old boy in Ohio while simultaneously finished a hand to be sent to a man in Louisiana. After he began his graduate studies at Merrimack College this past fall, Fairley and the rest of the Merrimack Chapter took on their first case with Bailey as their Recipient.
Having received a thumb-less Cyborg Beast hand from ECF volunteers two years prior, Bailey had since outgrown the hand and it had broken with use, so they anticipated his expectations and tried to manipulate the Raptor Reloaded design to fit his needs of a thumb-less design while still being able to use his fifth metacarpal (first pinky bone, in the palm). He had this bone lengthened in order to increase his “pincher-grip” which he uses to complete Activities of Daily Living, so they decided to give him this 3-fingered design to give him continued use of the grip he has become accustomed to.
After working day-in and day-out for a month on Bailey’s hand, they finished assembling the final touches just in time for a few of them to hop on a plane to St. Louis to deliver the hand to him on December 21st, 2015. The day trip, taken by Fairley, Junior Mechanical Engineering Major – Ashley Widing, and Junior Health Science Major – Sam Monaco, was an exciting one that they will never forget. They had been sitting down at the table for lunch at Dave and Buster’s for no more than 5 minutes, when the excitement overcame Bailey that he was receiving his Batman hand, at which point Fairley brought out the early Christmas present and Bailey opened it with utter joy, pride, and amazement. After they fitted him properly with the device, he tried to use it while eating lunch and picked up any random object he could, when finally it was time to put it to the real test…the arcade games of course!
It was only too fitting that Bailey played a Batman car-simulation video game, and kicked butt doing so with his custom hand. They then went into the city to journey to the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and Bailey got the chance to oversee his city as the “Caped Crusader” for the first time. The added courage and confidence in Bailey’s already happy-go-lucky demeanor is the reason why they do what they do. They know the devices are a work-in-progress, and are constantly being improved upon, but they are becoming that much more usable for everyday life, and that is why they don’t hesitate to take time away from studying from finals, or to stay up till the wee hours of the morning (nope, not partaking in college festivities) watching the 3D printed parts intently and anxiously, so that they can witness firsthand Bailey’s smile, as well as the ones radiating joy from his parents’ faces. They can’t wait to see what Bailey uses his Batman hand for next!