Haitian Man Travels to Fargo for Prosthetic Arm
FARGO—A young man from Haiti can thank an army of volunteers, who brought him to Fargo, to get a prosthetic arm.
29-Year old Jacquelin Joseph has been a translator for a local medical team for years when they travel to Haiti.
Jaquelin found himself smack dab in the middle of a workshop, buzzing with tech talk.
The owner-entrepreneurs Josh Teigen and Cooper Bierscheid, with Fargo’s Prosthetics company are measuring and calculating the geometry, physics and human anatomy of Jacquelin’s upper body, in order to fit him with a 3D Printed arm.
“These guys can hit print and go home for the day and print it during the night and you come back in the morning, and the work is done,” said Paul Edman, Altru Certified Prosthetist.
Jacquelin comes from impoverished Haiti, and lives in a village where Fargo Moorhead medical teams perform surgery for the last two decades.
In fact Cooper met Jacquelin on during a recent Fargo Medical Mission trip.
Jacquelin lost his arm in a sugar cane press, similar to our wood chippers.
“I put the sugar cane in and someone said, look out, and I lost my mind,” said Jacquelin.
Jacquelin never let the loss of a limb, limit his work ethic, but some everyday practical things were hard.
“Driving and carrying things, if I get a prosthesis I can do that,” said Jacquelin.
Altru’s Paul Edman, a certified prosthetist from Grand Forks, joined others in donating time and expertise to help Jacquelin get a functional arm.
“If he gets a terminal device, he has grip to lift and carry things,” said Edman.
The Altru team glued, drilled, cut and tweaked the new 3D printed limb, to get a good fit.
“A lot of people think you come in and get a small medium large, and here you go, but everything has to be custom made,” said Edman.
Watching the team from Protosthetics, happy to see technology used to do great things.
“When we started this company, we wanted to make products that help people, and that means not just here, but everywhere,” said Josh Teigen, Protosthetics.
20-years after losing his arm, he was fitted with a socket, elbow, forearm wrist and device he can manipulate with his shoulders, but for Jacquelin a changed life.
Dr. Lance Bergstrom of Fargo helped bring Jacquelin from Haiti.
To learn more about the Haiti Medical Mission, click here.
Donors: Bergstrom Eye and Laser Clinic
By Kevin Wallevand WDAY
Office Vibes: Protosthetics
Cooper Bierscheid couldn’t believe what he was hearing when one of his professors told him what it was going to cost to outfit his grand nephew—who was born missing both arms above the elbow—for a pair of prosthetic arms.
Bierscheid, who was an undergraduate in the NDSU College of Engineering at the time and looking for a senior design project, knew he could do better.
So in 2015, after turning down a dream job at 3M in the Twin Cities, he founded Protosthetics, a Fargo-based company that uses 3D printing to create ultra-durable, low-cost prosthetics and orthotics.
He later enlisted serial entrepreneur Josh Teigen to help take the company to the next level, and after a year and a half in Barnesville, Minnesota, in May of this year, Protosthetics moved into a new space on Fourth Street in Downtown Fargo. Teigen gave us a tour of their new(ish) digs.
The building, which sits kitty-corner to Sanford Medical Center in Downtown Fargo, is owned by commercial developer Kilbourne Group and is slated to be demolished in a couple years time. If that happens, Protosthetics will be looking for a new home sooner than later, but Teigen’s okay with it.
“It’s a medium-term solution for us,” he says. “Hopefully we can stay longer, but we’ll see.”
The space used to house Welu Dental Laboratory, a leading manufacturer of dental crowns and gold teeth. The company stored a large amount of gold on site, which was housed in a two-stage vault that held a variety of precious metals.
“We actually cracked the safe,” Teigen says. “Now we say it’s the intern office.”
When you think of a high-tech startup that creates artificial limbs with 3D printers, you probably don’t picture their headquarters in a small, rural town. That’s exactly where they got their start, though, initially leasing a space in Barnesville, Minnesota.
“There are only so many facilities in Barnesville,” Teigen says. “So when we were looking for more space, we came and toured a couple different spots in Fargo. Being here is ideal for recruiting talent and finding workers.
“After we toured this building, we said, you know, we don’t really need a super high-end space. We’re a manufacturing company, don’t have a lot of foot traffic and don’t really have any visitors. We toured this, and it had plenty of space and was kind of perfect for us from a layout standpoint.
As if you needed another reason to get involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fargo, Teigen and Bierscheid were actually introduced to one another by John Machacek, the senior vice president of finance and entrepreneurial development at the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and an active member of the area startup community.
Early on, when Protosthetics was trying to figure out exactly which segment of the market to focus on, they went around and talked to doctors to find out what they were seeing the greatest need for.
“When we talked to them, they told us that they see one upper-extremity patient per year,” recalls Teigen, who adds that Protosthetics was initially focused on an upper-extremity product. “They told us that the No. 1 request they get is actually for a leg that patients can wear in the shower or a pool or just water wherever. With traditional prosthetics, you can’t wear your primary leg anywhere that can get wet or dirty.”
What they came up with was their flagship product, the Amphibian, which is a below-knee device that works for both daily and recreational activities. They’ve even built custom versions for a professional snowmobiler and a scuba diver.
While no one’s ever going to confuse it for the Ritz-Carlton, Teigen says they’ve made huge strides with the space since they took it over a few months ago.
Instead of purchasing and using existing machines, Protosthetics custom-builds their own 3D printers to the exact specifications and functions they need.
“If you think about one of our sockets, with the machines you buy off the shelf, there’s no way it would fit,” Teigen says. “Also, this pair of foot orthotics printing right now is probably 10 times faster, has a bigger build volume and the parts that come off it are probably 10 times stronger.
“The ability to design and build them ourselves allows us to design and build them specifically to the needs and requirements of orthotics and prosthetics. A lot of the machines you can buy off the shelf are really good for a lot of different purposes. Our machines are way better for our specific use.”
These big, blue boxes are essentially houses for 3D printers.
“They allow us to regulate humidity, temperature and a bunch of different things,” Teigen says. “It helps from a quality standpoint and gives us a little more control over the environment, which is nice.”
The eventual goal, he says, is to create a same-day turnaround for prosthetics and orthotics patients.
“Right now, with other suppliers, the turnaround is weeks,” Teigen explains. “Right now, you have patients coming from out of town—Valley City (North Dakota), for example—driving here for an appointment and then driving back. What we could do is: They’d come in the morning, we would build the prosthetic throughout the day and they’d come pick it up at the end of the day. That’s a huge value-add for the clinic, the patient, everyone.”
There are only a handful right now, but there will eventually be a “printer farm” of 32 “Tallboys” that will fill much of the office’s main space.
“Before I forget, there’s a story behind why we have a giant, four-foot rabbit in the office,” Teigen says. “We play ping-pong and foosball and have power rankings. The way it works is that you can challenge the person above you, and you can only challenge one above you.
“To challenge, you set this giant rabbit on their desk, and they have 15 minutes to accept the challenge. You get one challenge per week in ping pong and one in foosball. You work your way up.”
Teigen says that when he goes to trade shows, he’ll take the sockets and stand on them, sometimes even jumping up and down.
“It’s how we show off the durability of them,” he says.
“This is something that can only be done using 3D printing,” Teigen explains. “You can visually see different areas of pressure in the socket by how much skin is poking through. And the reason we use the diamond shape is that printers can print to a 45-degree angle without any support materials. Per clinic, we do probably one of these per week.”
The Amphibian uses the Boa system, which is more or less a dial-based, ultra-durable shoelace system.
“You can kind of just clamp the leg in for more of an adjustable fit,” Teigen explains. “So when you’re in the shower and need to rinse the residual limb, you just pop the button, pop it out of the socket and then just pop your leg back in. It’s kind of like infinite adjustability.”
Protosthetics: 617 4th St. N, Fargo
By Fargo Inc!
Photos by Paul Flessland & Hillary Ehlen and courtesy of ProtostheticsOriginal Story
Protosthetics Featured in Gate City Bank Commercial
Entrepreneurs build contract manufacturing and 3-D printing central fab facility
After launching Protosthetics in January 2016, founders Josh Teigen and Cooper Bierscheid celebrated their new company by making a 3-D printed myoelectric upper-extremity prosthetic for a four-year-old. They soon discovered that a larger market beckoned for lower- extremity devices, and the company pivoted to become a 3-D printing central fabrication supplier for O&P facilities.
Protosthetics Launches Amphibian Leg Prosthetic
Engineering Students Launch Amazing Business
Andrew Dalman is racking up recognition. He’s been named to Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list, which recognizes the country’s best and brightest young people, and has opened many doors. Dalman was recognized for developing a patented composition for the production of 3D-printed artificial bones and for helping develop a prosthetic arm for children. He is a graduate student in mechanical engineering, and has already moved on to be CEO of a company called Advanced Bone Technology, which is focused on SimBone, a product designed to look, feel and react like human bone so users can do testing, training and development on something other than a human cadaver or animals.
Now he’s been invited to Vienna for an event called the Pioneers Festival, for the top early-stage start ups around the world. “It’s been a cool adventure. Going from being someone with no ambition to travel when I got into this, now I’ve gone to Boston, Tel Aviv, Boston again, Vienna and I’ll be going to Palo Alto. It went from zero to ‘Holy cats, everything happened at once.'”
Cooper Bierscheid was part of the group with Dalman, and has now founded a company called Protosthetics, working to commercialize the 3D prosthetic. Dalman and Bierscheid were both part ofa student research team that develops new types of dental and bone implants.
Bierscheid won first place in the product category at NDSU’s annual Innovation Challenge, and he has big plans to have an impact in the world. “We want to reduce the acceptable price tag for medical devices so that they are accessible for anyone who needs them, especially in underdeveloped countries,” he says. “Our team is continuing to develop new products. We are working with major prosthetic clinics across the United States to get the devices to people who need them. Our ability to create interchangeable replacement parts allow amputees to feel comfortable wearing their device, instead of being ashamed of it, and allows them to efficiently perform their daily activities.”
Innovating, Providing Hope, and Doing the Most Good
What started as a class project during his undergraduate career has turned into a promising startup for Cooper Biersheid and his business partner, Josh Teigen. Together, Biersheid and Teigen have started Protosthetics, a business that designs affordable, accessible prosthetics with the use of a 3-D printer. Biersheid is in charge of the design while Teigen focuses his energy on the sales aspect of the business. While Protosthetics is still in its early stages, Biersheid and Teigen are hopeful that the business will make enough money and find the right investors in order to do the most good. At the end of the day, their mission is to help the most people – a worthy endeavor for a pair of recent college grads.Pictured from left are Cooper Biersheid, Guest Host Perry Miller, and Josh Teigen.