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A Hand For Kaelie – Transforming a Young Girl’s Independence

A few months ago, one of our design engineers, Phil Hopping, came across a ground-breaking nonprofit organization called E-NABLE. They design and build 3D printed mechanical assistive hand devices for individuals who otherwise could not afford a prosthetic.

It was at that moment, Phil thought of his wife’s cousin, 26-year-old Kaelie Morgan. Kaelie was born without any fingers on her right hand due to a birth defect. Her inability to grasp with both hands has always caused her to struggle with everyday activities such as buttoning her shirt or tying her shoes. With prosthetic hands costing upwards of $40,000, Kaelie never believed that it might be possible to have one of these devices.

After downloading a free 3D model from the E-NABLE website, Phil was determined to create a prosthetic hand for Kaelie. He knew this was an opportunity to transform her life through a new degree of independence and self-reliance.

Excel offered to let Phil use the 3D scanner and 3D printer in the Engineering Lab after hours to create the hand. After scanning Kaelie’s wrist and forearm, scaling the model to fit her measurements, many hours of printing prosthetic pieces layer by layer, a few hours of construction, including tendon lines made from fishing string – a pink hand, embellished with fun stars, became a reality.

Kaelie is still learning how to use her brand new hand. When her wrist moves or flexes, the fingers move in conjunction, opening and closing the hand. The process and motion takes time to master. After a little more practice, she should be able to do simple tasks that are much easier with two hands. This has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for her. In fact, she should be able to ride a bicycle for the very first time this summer! Excel is proud to have employees like Phil, who saw a need, and offered his expertise to meet it.

The Peoria Journal Star covered this story in an in-depth article on Sunday, May 31.

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