Navy vet creates prosthetic device after losing four fingers
Last October, 57-year-old Howard Kamarata, was working on a home project when a tragic accident with a miter saw amputated four of his fingers. The retired Navy veteran thought he had lost his livelihood as a pipe fitter and handyman for good.
According to Fox News, Kamarata was flown to the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix and surgeons were able to save his pinkie. The other three mangled fingers could not be saved because the damage was too severe.
Afterward, Kamarata fell into a deep depression.
“You can’t be a pipe fitter with one hand,” he said. “’What am I going to do now?’ That’s what I thought. What would I be good for?”
Determined to get the use of his hand back, he searched for a solution and found it through a chance meeting with Casey Barrett, an industrial designer.
USA Today reported that only a few months earlier, Barrett had seen a video online of someone who made a hand for a child. “I thought it was really cool. I did some more research, and found someone who had made a design that would work for Howard,” he said.
Kamarata remembers the moment. “He said, ‘Let’s make you some fingers.’”
With the help of a supportive Internet community and plenty of free information, Barrett was able to obtain templates for finger prostheses that provided printable files based on measurements provided by users. He found virtually everything he needed online. Graphic Design Services in Scottsdale gave him use of their 3-D printer during down time.
“As a design engineer, I was interested in 3-D printing,” Barrett said. “Maybe this was an opportunity for me to learn more.”
According to USA Today, Barrett fashioned a prosthesis from the designs he found online with a glove Kamarata purchased from Home Depot, some high-strength braided fishing line and screws. Each finger section was printed, requiring three pieces for each section. They were connected with pins, forming hinged joints. Wires ran from the back of the glove to points under the fingers. It was operated by the movement of the joint below the nubs. The fingers could flex just enough to allow Kamarata to grasp objects.
Although the cost to make the device was less than $100 for materials and time on the printer, the value for Kamarata was priceless.
“I was able to hold things again,” Kamarata said. “I could pick up a water bottle.”
Fox News reported that Kamarata and Barrett are teaming up with the RecFX Foundation to give their design to veterans who have lost their hands or fingers or anyone else who needs help. They are not looking to gain financially from their collaboration. Their goal is to help others who need it because prosthetics are very expensive.