Challenge:  Golf Assists for Hand Transplants
Challenger:  Eric Lund, US Army (Retired)
University Partner:  Catholic University
Student Team: Ayda Rajab, Caroline O’Connor, and Kaelin Martin
Faculty Advisors:  Dr. Lum and Dr. Behrmann
QLPlus Program Manager:  Barb Springer

Project Summary:

We were tasked to create an assistive golf adaptation device for veteran, Eric Lund.  Back in May 2012, Eric lost both of his arms while serving in Afghanistan. In 2017, he became the first patient in the United States to undergo an above-the-elbow double arm transplant, making him the first patient in the U.S. to have it done and done successfully.  He has regained some movement in his fingers and elbows and can pick up foam blocks with his left hand.  He goes to therapy at Walter Reed Military Medical Center for 5 days a week, and one of the activities he wants to implement in his therapy is playing golf.  The challenger’s requirements for the device include comfort, custom fit to his hands/wrist, does not cause skin breakdown or skin irritation, does not “wobble” when he swings a club, allows him to slide at least one hand out when he needs to and is washable.

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Our final design consists of a pair of extra-large Calloway gloves, a TPU tube with a grip shape molding, and Noedymium 52 magnets.  The golf glove has a thermal grip to ensure warmth in extreme conditions. The N52 magnets that we used have a diameter of 0.5 inches and a thickness of 0.03 inches and were glued on the inner part of the glove, positioned on the fingers and palms of the hands.  The golf gloves and magnets were purchased, and the tube was printed using the Creator Pro Flashforge printer.  The tube was printed in two parts, and we used a soldering iron to meld the pieces together.  The rough edges were softened using a Dremel, and we used the soldering iron again to create the holes in the tube where the magnets will be positioned.  We also created a slot at the bottom of the tube to allow the tube to slide easier through the golf club.  The magnets were super glued onto the gloves and tube using gorilla glue.  The two gloves and the tube each have 18 N52 magnets, a total of 72 magnets for the whole device.  The device works by putting the tube over the golf club, and aligning the fingers on the glove (that have magnets) on the tube’s magnets, which are positioned on the golf grip moldings imprinted; doing so will create a proper gripping position, and the magnets are used to keep the grip in place, even as the hand relaxes. We also implemented two zippers. The first zipper connects from the wrist to the thumb, and the second zipper connects from the wrist to the pinky finger. This mechanism allows users, whose hands cannot flex or extend, to be able to place their hands inside the glove which makes it easier to put on because it can open all the way up, and allow them to wear the glove and zip it closed.

After testing our device, it met all the requirements set by Quality Life +. Our prototype is a novel mechanism used to aid in gripping a golf club for those who lack arm and/or hand control.  The prototype is made of a TPU tube with contoured grip shape patterns that have magnets attached, which will be inserted through the golf club, and comes with a glove that also has magnets, all used together to properly grip the golf club and hold it firmly while playing.  In order to improve our prototype, we will be attaching a wrist brace on the golf glove given to be able to support the wrists and keep it in place while playing golf.  Due to the pandemic, we were unable to test our device on our challenger, however, we are hopeful that as the project continues in the Fall of 2020, it will have the necessary improvements, and will be ready for testing on the challenger.