While drafting today’s press release, we spent time speaking with X-Finger inventor Dan Didrick and learned more about how he got his start helping people. Believe it or not, it was trying to scare the pants off of people. As a child, he loved using materials from his father’s dentist office to make movie-quality monster masks. By seventh grade, the budding special effects artist was selling his instructional video on mask-making through creepy Fangoria magazine.
But then the tables turned. Dan saw something that scared him. A cancer patient arrived at his father’s office missing nine teeth and the better part of her upper lip and nose. His dad could only do so much. He could make the false teeth. “Can you help with the rest?” he asked his son.
Dan whipped up a lifelike latex lower face. For the first time in his life, he was creating a mask to make someone less frightening. He stepped into his father’s office just in time for the fitting. “Her reaction changed my life,” Dan recalls. “All of a sudden, I saw a way for the talents I’d been developing to actually benefit society.”
When working in Japan, Dan found his latex skills would help the workers who lost fingers on the factory lines. Back home, while working with prosthetists who made back braces, he got a call for help. A patient was not only missing fingers, he was deaf. Since the patient communicated with his fingers before the injury, losing them was like contracting permanent laryngitis.
“Latex fingers were of no benefit to him,” Dan thought. “How can I make these bend?”
Over next five years, he figured it out – with the help of SolidWorks software.
Today Dan is also trying to help children whose insurance companies deny them coverage because they grow out of their prosthetics too fast. As with the adult line of X-Fingers, the costs of producing children’s X-Fingers are enormous because of the variation in injuries and finger dimensions. Dan established the nonprofit 5013c World Hand Foundation to cover costs for starting up X-Fingers for children.
Learn more about X-Fingers in today’s news release: http://www.solidworks.com/sw/news/167_11642_ENU_HTML.htm