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Deployed mom sees son get new prosthetic hands

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Susan Penning
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Pine Grove Area Middle School student Andrew (A.J.) Mindy loves playing music, especially on the trumpet, drums and guitar. But playing these instruments used to be a challenge because Mindy was born without a left hand. Now, thanks to technology and the creativity of a local high school student, he can play these instruments with ease.

When Pine Grove Area High School got a 3D printer earlier this year, Freshman Nick Brown immediately saw a use for it that would help change the lives of two middle schoolers. With guidance from district technology education teacher Brad Fessler, Brown developed a plan to use the 3D printer to create prosthetic hands designed specifically to facilitate playing instruments - namely the drums and guitar. The process included creating five different prototypes, according to a press release from the Pennsylvania State Education Association.

Brown, who plans to major in robotic engineering in college, said the project involved a lot of attention to detail and "trial and error" to ensure the prosthetics fit properly. 

The project was a success and prosthetics were presented June 7 at the middle school to Mindy and another student. Plus, thanks to the work of personnel from the 193rd Special Operations Communications Squadron, Mindy's mom, who's currently deployed overseas, was able to attend the event via Internet webcam.

Senior Master Sgt. Susan Mindy, assigned to Joint Force Headquarters, Pennsylvania National Guard, Annville, was overjoyed to be able to be part of such a special day for her son. She said she couldn't believe the school was able to create the hands and described the project as "awesome."

Sgt. Mindy and other family members who attended the event got to meet the project creators and watch A.J. demonstrate what his new hands could do, including hold a guitar pick and drum sticks.

He used to try taping drumsticks to his old prosthetic, since its grip wasn't adequate. But that solution didn't hold for long. Often he and another student had to sit out during portions of music class because their former prosthetics prevented them from playing certain instruments.

Now these students can play to their hearts' content using their new, 3D-printer created prosthetics.