Peace Out to Finger Injuries -Emmaline, Maggie, Ebheni, Lily

During the past month or so, the Joint Protection Project has been working tirelessly to create, innovate and design a protection device to protect the hands and finger joints of roller derby players. Lily Yepez, Emmaline Jeansonne, Ebheni Henderson, and Maggie Saucedo are in their eighth week of working on this project, and much progress has come of their efforts.

Most recently, the Joint Protection Project is working on a preliminary design to build off of. After taking a brief trip to the material store Hancock Fabrics, the team learned what materials we would have to potentially work with in the final design. Materials are only one step in creating a final product, many other aspects of design must be considered as well. In our first prototype (which you can see below in figure one) we used a white sheet of plastic to form the general shape of the hands and fingers, popsicle sticks to stabilize the sides of the fingers, cotton balls to provide padding in the ends of the fingers and palm, and tape to hold all of the pieces together. We tried to focus mostly on protection of the fingers in this design, not as much on the aesthetic appeal or comfort etc. The greatest downfall of our current prototype is the lack of mobility in the fingers. Using the materials we had available to us, we had trouble making a mobile prototype that could provide protection to the finger joints without falling apart. This difficulty with the flexible joints could possibly pose problems in our future design, but hopefully with the access to the 3D printer it shouldn’t prove to be much of a problem. As our team learns more about how both the 3D printer and sewing machine will work, we can start to plan a pattern for our final version of design.

Our final design will hopefully include many of the elements we tried to include in our very first design sketch. Our design will consist of hard curved plastic between each joint, to protect to the bones and structure of the hand. The plastic will arch over the finger to create a gap between the finger and a potential roller skate, so the players hand won’t be crushed. Another element of our prototype that will transfer to our final design will be the cushioning of the tips of the fingers and the palm, to reduce the amount of damage caused by impact/collision with hard surfaces such as the rink floor. We have learned through our ongoing research that a jammed finger can occur from a direct blow to the tip of a finger, causing tendon or ligament damage. This ongoing research has led to new designs; this page of notes includes new designs and the anatomy of the hand.

Page with notes and new design -taken by JPP

We are now working on understanding the relationship between our device and the anatomy of the hand. To test our knowledge on the bone structure of the hand, the team worked together to to build a model out of plastic pieces with state of the art popsicle stick support, which you can see below.

image (1)
Our first prototype -taken by JPP

Hopefully we can use this model as well as our knowledge and further research to really plan out a design that we can print on the 3D printer. As well as using the 3D printer, we will also be training on how to use sewing machines. Our first concern about the sewing machine would be learning what stitches to use while sewing stretchy material to ensure that it will remain durable throughout the customer’s use.

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  1. I really liked the idea you guys are going with to create a useful joint protection device. I had never really thought about how mobile our fingers are, and how mobile they need to be. Do they need to be extremely mobile in order to succeed in roller derby, or is the excessive mobility a contributing factor to the number hand injuries received in the sport? I think y’all approaching this problem in the exact way it needs to be approached: science first, then beauty. I’m really excited to see what y’all will actually build in the end. – Emily G.

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