Tag Archives: SwitchPoint

Community of Volunteers Creates 3D-Printed Prosthetic Hands for Children

At last month’s IntraHealth International SwitchPoint conference I had the opportunity to put together a 3D-printed hand with e-Nable, a global community collaborating to make free 3d-printed prosthetic hands available to all who need them.

The hand wasn’t easy to put together and I got nowhere close to finishing, but I learned that through a little ingenuity and modern technology even prosthetic hands can be created and customized for those who don’t have one.

The hands all start with a 3D-printed mobile and are put together by strings and screws by volunteers. The hands are intended for children and adults who have who have wrists but no fingers or elbows with no wrists/hands.

e-Nable Hand
Pieces of a 3D-printed hand. Photo: Jennifer James

The hands are meant to do some everyday tasks like picking things up or holding cups, for example. They are not, however, full medical prosthetic hands.

“At $30-$50, they’re cheap enough that parents can order larger ones as their children grow,” wrote Margarite Nathe for IntraHealth International’s VITAL blog. “The hands are customizable, comfortable, and easy to assemble. And—in perhaps their greatest success—they are beautiful in the eyes of their users (who can choose hands in their favorite colors).”

e-Nable Hand
Fingers of the prosthetic hand. Photo: Jennifer James

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Can Creative Innovators Drive Global Health and Humanitarian Change?

I am currently in a very small North Carolina town known for a few things: its infamous ballroom that was converted into a world class event space from an old, historic cotton mill, its Gastropub, its craft beer as well as its pristine location on the Haw River about twenty minutes from Chapel Hill.

Haw River

I’m here for the SwitchPoint conference that fuses a combination of music, art, microlabs and 15-minute talks on a wide variety of issues ranging from using drones in humanitarian crises to being implored to add more Africa into our timelines and not excepting the narrow narrative arc of the continent.

SwitchPoint is presented by IntraHealth International, the 35-year-old global NGO that works in innovative ways with health workers in 100 countries. SwithPoint is IntraHealth International’s flagship conference where experts, and storytellers, and doers on the ground (wherever in the world that is) convene for two days for a conversation about ways to partner, collaborate, and innovate on ideas.

After the first day at SwitchPoint I walked away knowing there are new ways to reach online and offline communities with messages that moms want to hear and share – issues that not only affect women and children here in the United States, but globally as well.

We heard from extremely talented innovators, social entrepreneurs and others who are indeed innovating on ideas that are shaping the world really as we know it. The day started with Patrick Meier, who founded the Digital Humanitarian Network. He talked about the worldwide use of drones in places like Namibia for conservation efforts and in Haiti where after Hurricane Sandy drones were used to find standing water and flooding across the island country.

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