Originally Published MPMN June 2005
A Helping Hand
Call me naive, but I believe that most people really do want to help those in need. The world saw proof of this a few months ago when a devastating tidal wave ripped apart the lives of everyone living along the coasts of the Indian Ocean. Barely a month later, the American Red Cross alone received so many donations that it was able to stop its fund-raising efforts for victims of the tsunami. And other charities could no longer accept donations because of the overwhelming response.
Medical device manufacturers and their suppliers are uniquely qualified to help. The work you do daily directly affects the sickest and most needy of us. And every so often all the pieces come together for a perfect opportunity to fill a need. This happened recently for injection molder Stack Plastics. The company is spearheading a project to help victims of land mine accidents in southeast Asia.
It all started when a southern California industrial designer created a functional, inexpensive hand prosthetic. He went to Stack Plastics for its expertise in producing the device. They developed an overmolding technique that uses polymer chemistry and scientific molding principles for the artificial hands.
Stack makes the digits and the base.
The finished models will have a soft pad overmolded on the underside of the digits to increase grip. The products will benefit an estimated 5000 third-world children maimed each year by land mines or who have birth defects affecting their hands.
Stack Plastics and other organizations including a Rotary Club and a church youth group have sponsored time and materials for prototypes and production, so the costs are much less than other devices. Each hand is estimated to cost $50, compared with others
on the market for up to $1000.
Stack Plastics’ vice president Michael Mendonca recently traveled to Vietnam with two dozen hands for two weeks of testing and evaluation. The trial was tremendously successful. Mendonca tells of one 4-year-old boy who was missing his right arm below the elbow and his left hand from just above the wrist. At first, the boy was frightened of a device he had never seen before, but after seeing how it helped others, he was soon clamoring to be fitted. Within the first few minutes with his new hand, the boy managed to hold a marking pen. For the first time in his life, he could draw on a piece of paper.
Mendonca says he hopes to be in full production by the end of this year. Approximately 25,000–50,000 hands will eventually be distributed throughout the world.
Stack Plastics welcomes others who wish to support the project. Contact the company by phone at 650/361-8600, or by e-mail at [email protected].
Susan Wallace, Managing Editor
Copyright ©2005 Medical Product Manufacturing News