Saturday, October 10, 2009


Did you hear about the guy who who made himself a prosthetic finger? I came across the story in the local section of the paper, which is in itself a bit odd, given that I live in Ontario and the man in question lives in Moncton, New Brunswick. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, apparently this is some strange new usage of the word "local" with which I wasn't previously familiar.

According to the story, Richard Roy, a 44-year-old construction worker somehow contracted a particularly nasty infection in his hand which ended up costing him the index finger. When he found that the cost of an actual medical prosthetic would run about $10,000 he decided to save himself a few bucks and make one himself. Heck, how hard could it be, right?

And so it was that Roy went into his work shop and fashioned a prosthetic index finger using the foot peg from a Harley Davidson bike, a clamp used for holding down a truck cap and even parts from an R/C toy car so that he can make the finger flex and grasp objects by flexing his hand. How he intends to fasten the finger to his hand isn't made clear, but I imagine some good old-fashioned Krazy Glue, or maybe some duct tape, should do the trick. I'd say that Roy is obviously a fan of the Red Green show.

Not to belittle Roy's ingenuity, I'd say his home-built prosthetic is actually quite an accomplishment. From the picture, I'd say that, aside from allowing him to grasp and hold objects, it also looks like it might double as a handy bottle opener. You have to admire that! If you're ever at a party and want one of those annoying foreign beers whose bottle caps can't just be twisted off like our handy Canadian beer bottle caps, Roy's your man. He does admit, though, that his guitar playing days might be over for good, what with the lack of feeling in the prosthetic finger. On the other hand, if he can learn to switch hands when playing the guitar, he might be able to use the finger as a handy pick.

While I don't wish to make light of the underlying tragedy, there's a certain coolness factor in all of this. Isn't this how Darth Vader started out? Before you know it, Roy could be deflecting laser bolts with his palms or throttling people by remote control. If he ever gets lung cancer, I wouldn't put it past him to make himself a prosthetic lung out of an air compressor and a set of bagpipes. He might even start sounding like Darth Vader, or a Scottish Darth Vader anyway. ("Dinna be too prrrood of this technological terrrror ye've crrreated! The ken ta destrrroy a wee planet is bollocks next to the pow'rrr of the ferrrce!")

But seriously, if this prosthesis ends up working out for Roy, I see a lucrative business opportunity in it for him. He could start his own prosthetics business, directly competing with those high-priced medical prosthetics. Before you know it, he could be making a comfortable living giving others like himself the finger.


Martin said...

I'd be interested to hear how his home-made prosthetic finger compares in functionality to one of the commercially available models. The fact that he can make it flex sounds like quite an accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Richard Roy here stumbled across this site by accident id be glad to answer any questions and yes bottle opener for sure LOL i get off of the IV antibiotics next week i think i earned a beer LOL
get me at chopperpainter7@yahoo dot com

Halmanator said...

Hey Richard! (Actually, I'm betting it's "Rich" or "Rick"). Great to hear from you, and I'm glad that you apparently took my post about your story in the spirit that it was intended. And, yes, you've definitely earned yourself a cold one. Seriously, though, how do you attach the new finger to your hand so that it doesn't slip or anything?

Anonymous said...

well i cut the paint cup off my iwata airbrush it was chrome and just the right size to line with silicone rubber to get a snug fit on the remaining stump the cables that operate it fasten to a polished aluminum wrist band hold it nicely in place feels like your wearing a watch and ring and yup Rick is what everyone calls me but my ironworkin crew call me TinMan now. wasnt that the one without the brain on wizard of oz LOL