Duke eNable

Enabling the Future at Duke University

Welcome to Our Blog!

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for checking out our Duke eNable Blog. We’ll use this to keep you up to date on all the cool projects we’re working on. Check back often for new posts!

Featured post

Back to the Co-Lab!

A flurry of weather hasn’t stopped us from getting back into our work. Very eager students came out to our interest meeting and first general body meeting to learn more about our recipients and projects this year!

Interest Meeting ideas for cool device attachments!
First general meeting with a design challenge to create an attachment to help play an instrument

We also had a pop-up exhibit at The Ruby Makerspace’s Art+Tech Fair sponsored by the Co-lab and created a design challenge for our visitors. They had to draw a 3D Printed Wearable/Accessory. Congratulations to our winners:

1st place- Maddie Go “Swiss Army Barette” designed to aid young women in times of emergency
2nd place- Viraaj Punia, “Cup holder Belt” to store cans, bottles, and drinks on the go
3rd Place-  “Hand/Arm Cast” to bring fashion and support to injuries.
Honorable Mention- Kilian Sadowski de Prada, “Throwing Baseballpult” for practicing catch

Finally, we want to introduce our newest recipient, Logan, who is 4.5 years old and the world’s next superhero. You can catch him braving the monkey bars or pledging himself to Wakanda. We look forward to working with Logan!

Logan, superhero and fighter!

Wrapping up the year

As the 2017-2018 school year draws to a close, we would like to review what our club accomplished and share some of our hopes and goals for the coming year.

Three successful devices were delivered: one K1 hand with pinching capability and a fork holder for Brooke, one gripper thumb alteration with a harness design for Chris, and one Unlimb-ited Arm for Nathan. Additionally, we are closing out with Kaylyn (modular attachments) and hope to have final designs through the summer.

Successful delivery to Nathan! From left to right: Jake, Gaurav, Alex, Nathan, Nathan’s Dad, Joel, and Drew. Several others missing from delivery who also helped contribute to his final device!

Our community involvement has increased this year and we have loved engaging with generations both younger and older. In events partnering with Duke FEMMES and Splash, we challenged students in K-12 education to engage in the creative design process and introduced them to 3D printed technology. Meanwhile, alumni engagement and participation at the NCAAOP Conference  allowed us to take part in intellectual discussion on the open source contribution to 3D printing technology.

Partnership with FEMMES for a session of creative engineering for adaptive device technology

Additionally, our research and development branch has been working steadily towards creating a myoelectric arm. This year, we successfully captured EMG signals with a Myoband, and used the real time data to control a motor through an Arduino. The electrical team also made progress on a robust system to analyze signals with a Raspberry Pi. Our materials testing with PETG, Nylon, T-Glase, etc. has allowed us to expand our works from hands and arms to possibly legs, fingers, and other adaptive devices.

Near the end of the year, we also gained two new recipients! First is Alison, a young girl who seeks a lightweight device to perhaps grab or hold things. Her device will always be ongoing because of her growth, and we look forward to working with her through the years.

Our second recipient is Shawn C, who was born without most of his left hand. He never has relied on a medical grade prosthesis because he finds them heavy and bulky. However, as he is pursuing a career in plumbing, he came to us seeking something that could assist in carrying, holding, and gripping heavy objects. We hope to create something durable yet convenient for him!

Shawn, handyman!


Alison, lover of horses!







Looking into the future, we hope to work closely with these recipients and continue exploring our research and development projects. The club plans to continue its community outreach and attend an additional conference next year, Construct 3D ( for the latest 3D printing technology and networks. This will allow us to gain different perspectives on the world of open source devices, to complement what we learned at the NC AAOP Prosthetic conference last fall.

Finally, our executive team has transitioned leadership, and we are excited to welcome in the new executive board– Iris Chang as President, Gaurav Uppal as Vice President, Ian Eldridge-Allegra, Jake Robinson, and Jaydeep Sambangi as Senior Project Leads, and Claire Niederriter and Jason Chou as Project Leads. We will miss our seniors: Emily Shannon, who will be pursuing her Master’s degree at University of Pittsburgh’s O&P school, Joel Tewksbury, who will be attending the University of Chicago in Molecular Engineering, Gabriel Antoniak, who hopes to pursue graduate studies after a year of research at Duke, and Drew Levy, who will be interning in Houston before attending medical school later.

We want to give a shout-out to all our supporters and partners who have allowed us to grow so much this year, including Duke University’s Innovation Co-lab, Engineering Alumni Council, Lauren Stulgis and Dr. George Truskey, The Center for O&P Care, and many more organizations and people. We hope to accomplish even more in the future, and can’t wait for the adventure!

Our aging seniors… we will miss you! From left to right: Jay, Gabe, Emily, Drew, and Joel
2017-2018 Executive Board. From left to right: Jay, Gabe, Emily, Jake, Iris, Ian, Joel, and Gaurav
Executive board transition and senior dinner! From left to right: Gaurav, Claire, Iris, Emily, Drew, Joel, Gabe, Jake, Jason, and Ian

Delivering to Brooke!

After a year of designing, building, and testing out different prototypes with her, we have successfully completed and delivered a working adaptive hand device to Brooke! Since our last update, Brooke has moved back to North Carolina and is working in a pharmacy in Wilmington, so we were able to meet with her earlier this month to make this delivery.

Image uploaded from iOS

Brooke’s hand device is based off the K-1 hand, an open source model that uses wrist motion to close the fingers and enable grip. We made modifications to this design in order to capture a specific pinching motion that Brooke was looking for: in the final version, the index finger snaps down towards the thumb when she bends her wrist. With this movement and the non-slip material on the fingers, she can use this hand to pinch skin for administering subcutaneous injections. Another fun addition to this design is a fork-holder attachment, which we incorporated to help Brooke keep a grip on steak or other food while cutting with her other hand.

We have loved working with Brooke on this design, and are so grateful for her patience and enthusiasm!

NC AAOP Conference

Earlier this month, four members of the eNable team traveled to Charlotte to attend the annual meeting of the North Carolina state chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (NC AAOP). The conference agenda was packed with discussions on clinical practice, presentations on innovative research methods, and demonstrations of the newest technology in the field.

We heard from researchers at the Bao Lab (Stanford) and the Hugh Herr lab (MIT-Harvard) about really exciting technology and procedures that will one day revolutionize how prosthetic devices integrate with the body. We also had a few hands-on (pun intended) opportunities to learn about the Neofect Smart Glove, a wearable rehabilitation tool, and the Coapt pattern recognition system, which integrates myoelectric sensing and motor control into a system that allows a range of movements, speeds, and adaptability.

Also on the lineup was a panel on 3D printing in the O&P field — featuring two of our members! Emily and Gabriel participated in this panel to contribute to a discussion on the unique role of 3D printing in this field, and to add the mission and philosophy of Duke eNable to this conversation.

Gabriel and Emily on the 3D panel, alongside Richard Chi, Tyler Dunham, Jeff Erenstone, Brent Wright, and Barry Hand.

The panel opened our eyes to a critical nuance in the language we use. Our members are neither prosthetists nor medical professionals, and as such we are not building “prostheses” or working with “patients.” Rather, we are designing and fabricating recreational or adaptive devices for our recipients. Another key takeaway from the discussion is the importance of maintaining positive relationships with prosthetists. We are lucky to have already made connections in this community, and through this conference we were introduced to many more people who could be great assets to our organization. At the end of the day, we believe that we have very similar goals to prosthetists themselves – we want to use our skills and resources to improve someone’s quality of life. As long as we are aware of our abilities and limitations, and open to constructive feedback, we are confident that Duke eNable can continue making a positive impact.

HANDS down, ONE of the best experiences we’ve had with Duke eNable!

We would like to thank the NC AAOP chapter president, Brittany Stresing, for the invitation to attend this meeting. We are also grateful to the Duke Engineering Alumni Council and the Lord Foundation for their financial support, which made this experience possible.

Duke eNable starts its 2017-2018 season!

Hello all! Duke eNable has started our 2017-2018 season strong with a successful first interest meeting and general body meeting. We have split into several electrical teams and teams for our recipients Kaylyn and Nathan, and we have begun working on our first few projects. Looks like our members are excited for a productive year!

Getting to Know Brooke Reagan

Since we last introduced you to Brooke, she has graduated pharmacy school, accepted a full time pharmacy position in New Jersey, and has told us about how she became a pharmacist.

Hailing from North Carolina, Brooke has one sister who went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Born with a congenital amputation, she came to Duke around the age of 5 and received a hook prosthetic arm, but she never got used to it. She tried to wear it for about a week, but in the end found that she was better off without it.

Brooke majored in history with a concentration in women’s studies, focusing on women in Africa and the Middle East. She went to graduate school with hopes of becoming a history professor, but while working part time as a cashier at a pharmacy during her second semester, she realized her true calling and switched into pharmacy. She went back to community college and completed the prerequisites for Pharmacy School, an arduous task.

Before she went off to Pharmacy school, Brooke tried her chances with an aesthetic prosthetic hand, but unfortunately the lack of functionality forced her to leave the hand in the glove compartment of her car for most days.

She enjoys leisurely traveling and recently got a Great Dane puppy named Turtle! She plans to move back to North Carolina in the future with her fiancee who is the director of a hospital.

We’re excited to meet with Brooke again and deliver her arm!

Haiti Trip 2

Our second trip to Milot was a resounding success. We spent about 4 full days there and were able to deliver a functioning arm to Chris and his family. We arrived in Haiti on Monday evening and attempted to get a good night’s sleep before we started our work with Chris (though the noise outside, the heat, and the crazy Malarone dreams made that a bit tricky!).

No time to loose

On the first day, our goal was to test the fit of the arm and make adjustments from there. The arm itself looked great on Chris; the positioning and length were correct and looked natural, which was a huge step forward from the first prototype. As the socket was loose in places, extra foam had to be added around the top rim and at the base to improve the fit. The straps and the harness were not sewn before the trip because we felt it best to sew the final product when the fabric could be positioned properly. We placed the harness and straps on Chris and pinned them where they were best fitting and most comfortable. Later in the day, everything was sewn together.

Hold on…

Compared to the first trip, the hand was adjusted to make gripping larger objects easier. This was accomplished by curving the thumb to hold round objects; our standard test was holding a plastic water bottle. The design was successful, though not without its faults. Chris was able to hold a bottle with the hand, but struggled with initially grabbing it and sometimes maintaining the grip. When he attempted to hold the bottle in the gripper thumb hand and unscrew the top with his other hand, the bottle would rotate because there was not enough nonslip material. We decided to make some adjustments to the hand and test again the next day.

{Non}slip and slide

The second day was spent implementing and testing adjustments from the first day’s observations. The harness was sewn together and the elastic straps were sewn onto the socket. Additional Dycem was added to the inner side of the thumb to increase the amount of nonslip material in contact with the object being held. After making these adjustments, we went to visit Chris again and tested everything out. The additional Dycem made it easier for him to maintain grip on the bottle while twisting the cap with his other hand. However, he still struggled with the motion of grabbing with the hand, because it requires the application of force at a specific angle. We spent the next bit of the day brainstorming a way to solve this problem, and ended up adding a small patch of Dycem to the upper part of the thumb. With this added material, the thumb was less likely to slip once it was positioned on an object. When we brought this idea back to Chris, it was noticeably easier for him to activate the gripper thumb hand and grab the water bottle. He and his family were happy with these adjustments, so we decided that this would be the final version of the arm!

Armed and ready

On our last full day, we assembled a second arm for Chris and compiled all the extra parts and tools that the family would need to maintain it. We delivered these things and explained to the family what the next steps would be, describing how to replace foam and Dycem, how to change out the socket for a wider one if needed, and how to make adjustments to the thumb. The most important thing we stressed is that Chris will need to practice with the arm to increase his strength and get more comfortable with how it works. He has the resources and information to make the most of what we have been able to give him, and the ball is in his court now!

Haiti Updates: August 13


Bonswa tout moun! (Hello everyone) Our travelers made it back to the states late Friday night after a tiring but successful trip to Haiti. Be on the lookout for a longer post soon with stories and pictures from Milot!!


Haiti Updates: August 7

Well, it’s time once again to pack up everything and head down to Haiti! It has been a little over a month since our last trip and we are ready to present Chris with his final device. We have packed many things including …

  • The complete arm
  • 3 spare sockets
  • 3 spare forearms
  • 1 spare gripper hand
  • Extra foam
  • Harnesses, straps, and extra material
  • A variety of tools including screwdrivers, calipers, and a protractor
  • A hairdryer
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • 3D structure scanner
  • Camera and GoPro
  • Soccer ball
  • A partridge in a pear tree



Emily and Joel will arrive in Milot this afternoon and depart on Friday. This week, the goal is to fit the new arm, test its efficacy in different scenarios, and make final adjustments. We will also begin to plan for the next steps in our work with Chris.

You have to hand it to these strapping young students that they have a firm grasp on what will enable their success. (I will not apologize for this sentence)


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