A South Florida graduate student is getting a helping hand, thanks to a fellow classmate and some innovative technology.
Chad Coarsey was born without a left hand — but after a little ingenuity with a 3-D printer, he now has one.
Like many other 25 year olds, Coarsey loves to stay active and play sports.
"As I was wrestling in high school I got kind of the nickname, 'The Nub,'" said the Florida Atlantic University graduate student. "It's a big part of my personality, so it's a big part of how people identify who I am," Coarsey said.
Although his parents had offered to buy him a prosthesis many times, Coarsey was okay without one. Then he met his classmate and fellow graduate student, Charles Weinthal.
"I noticed he didn't have a hand," said Weinthal. "So I asked him, 'Chad would you like a hand?' And he looked at me for a moment and just smiled brightly and said 'Yes, I would,'" said Weinthal.
So why now?
"Well probably my curiosity and openness to science and seeing what I can actually make," Coarsey said.
The collaboration for their FAU class project then quickly began. They used FAU High School's high-tech lab and a 3-D printer to make Coarsey's hand.
Here's how 3-D printing works: Guided by a computer model, a plastic filament melts to create the object layer by layer. The 3-D printed prosthetic hand takes less than 24 hours to print.
"This device costs less than $100 to make," Weinthal said.
"When I put it on and started grabbing things and picking up things... for me it was just very surreal," Coarsey said.
It's no surprise these two passed their intro to bioengineering class with flying colors. The next step for "the Hulk hand," as Coarsey jokingly calls it, is for the plastic fingers to move individually.
"I can get another hand and be up to par... but why not push it further and get a hand that's better than what two handed people can do?"
Since this prosthesis has made a difference in Coarsey's life, both men now plan to give a hand to hundreds of amputees in need. They hope this quick and affordable alternative can extend far beyond the walls of their lab.
"It's important that everyone has a hand and that's part of giving. Because you give and get," Weinthal said.
"Despite having a limitation... if there's the motivation you can overcome it yourself," added Coarsey.
The students don't intend on making a business out of the creation. At this time, a foundation is in the works so that they can help thousands of people who may be in need of 3-D printed prosthetics.