Keep Moving Forward.
The Challenge to QL+ students at San Diego State University is to design and fabricate a military-grade radial nerve palsy splint that will be used for an active-duty service member in the Special Operations Command. The splints currently available and used by service members have limitations for returning to active duty due to their poor durability, susceptibility to various environmental factors, lack of strength, inability to maintain high performance/function, and a low profile aesthetic.
QL+ Teams have been working hard all school year and then COVID-19 changed everything. The universities and labs closed, and many of the students went back to their respective homes. This new normal has not stopped our teams from their work. They are adapting and doing what they can to complete their project.
We are Splinter Cell, a senior mechanical design team at San Diego State University. We took on an engineering challenge by Quality of Life Plus (QL+) to design and fabricate a military-grade radial nerve palsy splint that will be used for a surface warfare officer to remain on active duty. The splint shall assist with finger extension, provide wrist support, and be reliable in SWO working conditions.
Due to COVID-19, the resources that we had at school are no longer accessible, including the sewing machine and 3D printer located in the library and the waterjet located in the machine shop. Fortunately, we had a team member, Sophia, who had a sewing machine at home and took on the responsibility of sewing the remaining components of the splint. However, when she tried sewing thick components of the splint, the needle of the sewing machine broke so she hand to hand sew the remaining tensioning system components.
Another impact of COVID-19 was the disruption of our testing plan. We could no longer meet with our Challenger, David to get direct feedback from the end-user of our splint or meet as a team to conduct some of the more complicated components of our testing program. Initially, we planned to visit a surface ship with David where we could run tests such as opening a heavy hatch and climbing a ladder. We had backup tests in place before the virus which lightened the load but our test plan still required some edits to make it suitable for at-home work. In addition, a longer form of specific testing procedures was written out by our test engineer for team members to follow while testing. These instructions included step by step procedures, safety measures, and the
appropriate documentation method. These changes allowed our team to complete almost our entire testing program while working remotely.
We were able to complete the wrist splint and satisfy all the requirements for our project. We adjusted to the circumstances and worked closely together online with Annemarie, the QL+ Program Manager, and David, the Challenger.
Americans are experiencing extremely uncertain and difficult times. During this period, the Quality of Life Plus (QL+) board and staff want to share with you the steps we are taking to meet our responsibilities to our donors and our Challengers -- the wounded and disabled veterans and first responders with whom we are working at our partner universities around the nation.
It is important that QL+ continues and, wherever possible, completes its work.