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High school seniors building prosthetic hand for 4-year-old girl

Four-year-old Hansika Hamre has a rare genetic condition that caused her to be born without a right hand. Now, four seniors from Lakota East High School are using advanced technology to give her a new one.

According to her parents, Hansika is a very active little girl.

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“She climbs ladders and she plays and she bounces balls,” Hansika’s mom, Cara Hamre, told our news partners at WCPO.

Hansika was born with symbrachydactyly, a condition that causes babies to be born with shorter digits or missing fingers and toes. Her left hand is fully developed; her right hand is not. Usually, her mother said, it’s not an issue.

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“She adapts very well,” Hamre said. “You wouldn’t know that she was missing her fingers.”

However, she added that some activities — zipping up a zipper, for example — present a real challenge.

That’s why a group of Lakota East seniors is working to build her a prosthetic hand that will, hopefully, make daily tasks like that one easier.

“We wanted to do a project that makes a direct difference in someone’s life,” said Cali Hoffman, one of the Lakota seniors who is working on the project.

“We got to meet her and it was really sweet, just kind of tugged at your heart strings a little bit,” Hoffman said. “(We were like) we have to deliver, you know … you don’t want to disappoint her.”

Hoffman and her classmates — Logan Spilie, Ben Roth, and Sam Billisits — co-presented the details of their project to engineers at Kinetic Vision, where engineers used a 3-D scanner to capture geometric data of Hansika’s hands.

“We’ll be able to leverage these data sets to scale (and) change geometry,” Kinetic Vision lead imaging specialist Alex Doukas said. “If we need to do any sort of changes, this will all be manipulatable data.”

Butler Tech and Lakota East engineering instructor Ken Kinch said he wants to send his students into college with applicable engineering skills and working to help Hansika will get them just that. Their capstone project will include taking 3D scans, finding materials and then finding a way to 3D print the prosthetic hand.

“The (3D) scan (done at Kinetic Vision) was so, so big for us because now we can model something and actually overlay it over top of that 3D scan to make sure the fit’s right,” Kinch said.

The group will work on Haniska’s prosthetic, which they hope will be able to grow alongside its user, throughout the school year.

Hansika’s project is one of 17 different ones at Lakota’s East and West high schools, which are projects also guided by faculty at Butler Technology and Career Development Schools. Every capstone project by the students is designed to accomplish a single mission of helping the community in some way.

“It’s exciting for us to engage with students and make them aware of the latest (research and development) tools,” said Jim Topich, VP of engineering at Kinetic Vision, which has partnered with Lakota Schools and Butler Tech since 2014.

“At the end of the day, the real reward in harnessing all this technology is when we all see Hansika using a functional new hand,” he said.

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