By Mirembe Martina
Colin Macduff a former Navy man who did three tours in the Gulf and lost a finger in a gun accident has made himself a prosthetic finger from bicycle parts.
Macduff shot his finger off with a shotgun in 2009 but was told he would not need a prosthetic finger but rather should get used to it. He did not want to stay a finger amputee for ever so, he found prosthetic company to make him a finger but they told him it has to be amputated further to fit the design.
He was still unsatisfied and decided to do something about it himself. He cut bicycle parts in his garage and emerged with a prosthetic finger and hopes he can give it to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is also a middle finger amputee. “How hysterical would that be to give a politician the finger and get away with it?” he asked.
Macduff, 41, from Olympia, Wash.is a former welder and bike rider at a bicycle shop with a degree in computer aided drafting and design. Talking about designing the finger, Macduff said, “It was very therapeutic for me.”
The finger has three parts with a ring where the prosthetic sits on the amputated finger. It also has a cage which goes over and protects the amputated finger. He used a bike’s rear derailleur hanger for the tip, which simulates a normal finger tip.
The design is now available for other finger amputees. His former employer helped guide him through the process of getting a provisional patent in 2012. His company, RCM Enterprise, makes use of a manufacturer with 3D printing to create full, partial, and thumb prosthetics which evolved from metal bicycle parts to medical grade plastic.
“I’ve got about seven fingers out there,” Macduff said.
The process takes 10 to 12 weeks, beginning with patients placing their hands on a copy machine and sending the scans to Macduff to work with. “Each finger is customized to each amputation,” Macduff said. “Even if they don’t have insurance, we’ll work with them and set up a payment plan.”
The finger costs $5,500 for a partial finger to $9,500 for a thumb.
“When an amputee loses their finger, they’re going through an extreme emotional loss,” Macduff said. “This is giving people hope back, functionality. We’re putting people back to work.”
He is now working on a design that will allow amputees to use his prosthetic on touch screens.
“I’m hoping this year to get back into riding and have a little more of a life. All the hard work is done,” he said.