WARSAW — The cost of prosthetic devices can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars and children who have prostheses quickly outgrow them. Insurance coverage for the devices varies widely from one insurance company to another.
A child’s growth results in the need for modifications and adjustments of the prosthesis. Children and teenagers who use prostheses may need several replacements before they reach adulthood.
The Helping Hands program was formed to assist families in Northern Indiana with the challenges related to costs involved for prosthetic devices for children as the child continues to grow.
Jody Claypool, principal consultant and founder of JC Innovations LLC, is the driving force behind Helping Hands. Claypool has a background in engineering, having worked in the industry since 2001. His past experience includes multiple positions in research and development, product development engineer, product manager and program manager.
J.C. Innovations is partnering with individuals in Northern Indiana with limb differences to provide expanded capabilities by using 3D printing,
“The genesis of the program occurred at the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club when myself and a gentleman named Mike Hawkins were having a discussion,” Claypool said. “He had actually created a prosthetic for a little girl, and just for the purposes through that dialogue in trying to figure out if there was a way to take our talents and use that in a way that would benefit Warsaw and northeastern Indiana – and what that turned into was this 3-D prosthetic printing program.”
“The program is not something we invented,” Claypool clarified. “It’s been in existence for a long time. The best example of 3-D printed prosthetic programs is a website called ‘Enable the Future’ so anybody who is interested in learning the genesis of 3-D printed service offering at large should go to that website because it’s a fantastic story.”
“We want to do that for children in Northern Indiana,” Claypool said. “We want to be ‘the hub’ that people go to if they have children with limb differences who are seeking to expand their capabilities.”
Claypool said the program involves a variety of “wins.” The family wins, Claypool said, because the child will have the ability to have prostheses crafted for them based on what they want to do.
“Ride a bike, play baseball, whatever they want to explore or be involved in, we provide them — at no cost to the family — a solution that will do that.”
The Helping Hands program partners with the child until the child reaches maturity.
“So the benefit is pretty substantial because traditional prosthetics are pretty expensive, and for children who are going through the growth stage, they’ll grow out of those expensive devices,” Claypool explained, “The cost of entertaining that solution becomes no longer viable so they don’t do it.”
“We’re going to work with universities like Grace College and hopefully additional universities in the near future to partner engineering students with the families so that the engineering students have the opportunity to make something that is not just theoretical – something that is crafted for a specific person that’s going to have a real impact on a person’s life and that means more than just an ‘A’ on a piece of paper. So the engineering student wins.”
“So the students now have a design history file complete with all of the vital chunks in order to complete a robust design and they have a design that reflects understanding a user’s needs and applying engineering principals to make a practical product for an actual user and they can present that to the orthopedic companies and say ‘Hey, I’ve done this. I’m not just a theoretical engineer,’ which is really a large disconnect with a lot of colleges today — they have very good theoretical programs but no practical programs. They don’t have any way for the students to demonstrate that they know how to take all of the theory of engineering and apply it in a way that manifests into good product and this is a way that the students can do that – so it’s a win for the colleges — for Grace College right now, but also for other colleges that get involved — and it’s a win for the students.”
Claypool has a multi-faceted role in the program. He introduces the family to the students and is the liaison who ensures that user requirements are understood and translated into a practical design.
Claypool is attempting to promote information about the program in order to reach more people.
“If it’s local companies and they also want to provide engineering services or 3-D printing services or financial support for this program,” Claypool said. “For me and my company, the biggest hurdle is obscurity. I’m a small start-up and don’t have a platform to promote this program. I want to get the message out and find those people who have needs.”
To learn more about the program, go to https://jc-innovations.com/helping-hands/ or contact Claypool at J.C. Innovations.