Prosthesis and the many applications to biohacking

edited April 2015 in Everything else
After a work accident threatening the amputation of part (or all of my thumb) I started researching prosthetic options and I found they all either fell short or were far too expensive (or both) ... so I decided to design an open source base for others to build on.
I think prosthetics are a great way to test and implement many of the biohacks I've seen on here without the risk of failed tech inside your own body haha (also after speaking with several amputees I found many are more than willing to test new ideas and give great input on what is lacking)
I have access to 3D printers and have some metal casting/forming/machining skills as well as intermediate skills with electronics. 

looking for discussion (brainstorming) on transdermal metal bone grafts, haptic feedback, electrical feedback, magnetic feedback and any other ideas you have. the sky is the limit. 
also secondarily I am looking for someone with 3D design skills/experience to aid in the prototyping phase.


  • What you're asking for is beyond state of the art but I'll bit. For a thumb though this is harder. Such tiny pieces and very little to connect to. It'd help to know how much they're cutting off and what they plan on doing to close you u . As to transdermal bone anchor s they are similar to what we are working in no . If our project works then you have that sorted just add the bone anchor to the back end and use our coating process. For nerve integration it'll be best to use some plat/iridium electrode I presume but the electronics can be rather bulk . Gonna need to shrink them down. You can have the electrode come out subdermally via the bone anchor. For movement of the digit I'd suggest muscle wire rather than motors. I'll be working with them this summer to make a system specifically for small applications like this.
  • For nerve integration, are we referring to sensory input to the nervous system? Or translating signal output from the nervous system into movements?

    I've not the slightest idea how much "data" is output by a nerve, but depending on how many bells and whistles you want to add to your thumb, integrating the processing components into the implant itself could be an issue. One idea I had to get around this is using low-energy bluetooth radio, and moving your processing components to a wristband, a watch, or maybe even using an app on your phone. with a setup like this, you could limit implant electronics to sensors, the radio, and a small chipset that tells which signals where to go.
  • Sorry for the late reply, long shift today. 
     well the optimum situation would be to have a transdermal mount in the remaining bone with a stud on the end thus eliminating the complexity of designing a mounting system. 
     and as far as motorized movement of the prosthetic I do believe you are right that is outside my ability to build. (money too would be an issue)
    in my experience with muscle wire it would be far too slow and would probably require an external battery for it to be of any use (it would take several strands to make enough movement and for it to exert enough force and more strands = more power consumption)

    I am thinking more along the lines of a "posable" prosthetic.
    3D printed in a sort of lattice to allow the pad of the finger to flex (as much as the pad of your finger flexes) I think that would help when picking smaller objects up. the pad of the finger would also be coated with something like plastidip to give it better grip. 
    here's where the electronics would come to play.  inside the tip of the finger would be a pager motor with a pressure reactive resistor and a battery.
    when the pad of the prosthetic flexes it would activate the pager motor giving haptic feedback on how hard you are gripping the object. 
    I believe that would be fairly easy to implement.
    also being hollow the prosthetic would be extremely light and have plenty of room inside for other things such as magnets and RFID chips (you could even place a far more powerful model chip inside since you aren't constrained by implantability)   
  • Also I am in contact with a surgeon that said transdermals are a possibility but warned me against them due to the pain involved and the risk of infection.
  • The muscle wires I'm referring to contract 25 times faster than human muscle and can pull 100000times their own weight. You're thinking of niyinol which is rather slow. Nanotubes are way better
  • That posable prosthetic sounds super doable. There have been quite a few computer generated 3d printed mush prosthesis I've seen floating around. Tweaking one with a haptic feedback sensor should be a really easy hack.

    Unfortunately, the attachment of the base is where I draw a blank. I think you would basically need a scan of the hand so you could custom design how the thumb attaches.
  • @chironex Do you have a source for those nanotube muscle wires?
    @Mattmitch While nanotube wires are going to more than meet your needs, they're going to be a bit pricey. But if you're sinking enough money into one of these to get a transdermal anchor, you may as well go all the way. And you can always incorporate motorization later. Start with a simple prosthetic, and slowly build a nicer one. You just need to make sure that any transdermal anchors needed for future design are in place. If money is an issue, you could make a project out of it, and use crowdfunding. Posability is definitely a good substitute for the time being, at least. 

    @glims Have y'all got any plans/had any success combatting transdermal infection?
  • ya I'll poke glims to upload the paper. But for comparison a wire that's thinner than a human hair can lift a 2-3 gram weight.
  • Gotta find the paper. Give me a little bit.

    @TheGreyKnight  I'll reply to your question in the latest thread about transdermals (ie the 4/22 test)
  • ok, paper on nanotubes is in the folder. it's labeled nl500526r.pdf
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