Armed and ready

Seven-year-old Lydia H. displays her new prosthetic arm while surrounded by her family and ECPI students and instructor Dr. Negar Ghochaghi. (Photo by Ashley Luck for the Henrico Citizen)
Two Henrico parents were able to provide their daughter with a new prosthetic arm last week, thanks to the work of ECPI University of Richmond/Innsbrook students and staff.

ECPI instructor Dr. Negar Ghochaghi recently formed a local “Enabling the Future” chapter at the school – a network of volunteers who use 3-D printers to collaborate on and design innovative prosthetics and assistive devices throughout the world.

When the family of seven-year-old Lydia H. (last name withheld at the family's request) learned about the chapter, they e-mailed Ghochaghi and her team to learn more. A match was made.

Then, Ghochaghi and four of her electronics engineering and technology students acquired the design for the arm from the national Enabling the Future organization, measured Lydia for her new arm, designed the padding and printed it out. They presented it to her during a June 30 meeting at the Innsbrook campus.

"The process moved pretty quickly," said Lydia's father, Kevin. "We came in about a month ago to get her measured and then they printed it quickly and called us up and asked us to come in for a fitting.

"We are really thankful that they are using their technology to benefit us."

Lydia loves being active and outdoors and now can do all of things she loves with more ease with the help of the new arm.

“A regular medical prosthetic is very expensive, and you can't just get one ‘cause it won't last forever,” her father said. “This technology makes it affordable, and ECPI and Dr. G are making it available for us for free. We are really grateful for that. As she grows, they've already offered that if she breaks it or grows or she wants a different color later, that they will be willing to print us another one.”

Last week, Lydia watched intently as the team fit her for her arm and made adjustments. Her mother, Michele, said that Lydia probably would be telling her how it worked and how they made it by the end of the day.

“She loves to build things, take things apart and figure out how it goes together,” Michelle said. “She wants to be an engineer when she grows up.”


Seven-year-old Lydia H. displays her new prosthetic arm. (Photo by Ashley Luck for the Henrico Citizen)


Building and printing the prosthetic takes a maximum of two days. One component, depending upon its size, takes two to eight hours to print, said ECPI student Jose Rodriguez.

“Most of the time since we aren't just sitting in the lab, we'll leave it overnight and come back in the morning, and the pieces are solid,” Rodriguez said. “The 3-D printer is actually melting the plastic on an XY and Z plane, and it will build it layer by layer. The plastic is thermodynamic, so we put the pieces in boiling water to help form them into shape.”

This process also helps the ECPI students develop technical skills that they can take with them to the workforce, said Jacob Pope, ECPI Richmond/Innsbrook president.

“We finally found a way that we can make a win-win situation for our students,” Pope said. “We are able to help our students gain the skills to go out and get successful careers. We are also giving back to the community with this project, and we are giving some young people the opportunity to experience life to the fullest.

"A young man asked us to help him ride his bicycle better. So our students created a special cuff to help him enjoy his bicycle better. We also recently sent a prosthetic part for an adult to Sudan."

Lydia said she wanted her prosthetic arm to be red and blue, because mixing the two together produces her favorite color – purple. The first thing she intended to do with her new arm? Grab her older brother, Levi, she said.

"This little girl is full of adventure and nothing holds her back," her father said. "She's not scared to try anything. She's done rock climbing, horseback riding, turkey hunting, and she loves her bow and arrow. She's adapted well with one hand and there's nothing that she can't do already, but this will make life a little easier for her.

“She'll be able to have a second hand and be able to reach and do things that she hasn't been before. She's very excited – she's been calling it her 'robot hand,' and we were counting down the days till we could come get her 'robot hand.'"

To Ghochaghi, the delight she witnessed on Lydia's face made everything worthwhile.

“I am so glad we have this opportunity here at ECPI and to be able to have an Enabling the Future chapter here,” Ghochaghi said. “Her smile is everything. To see her smile is worth all of the time and hard work that we put in.”
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Rolls-Royce supplier lands in Henrico


A United Kingdom-based supplier for Rolls-Royce has established an office and manufacturing center at the Byrd Industrial Park in Eastern Henrico, the Greater Richmond Partnership announced July 18.

Erodex Ltd., a graphite products maker, recently signed a five-year agreement with Rolls-Royce to supply goods to the automotive company's Crosspointe campus in Prince George, Va. Erodex invested $2 million and hired four to quickly ramp up production for its client. > Read more.

New Walmart opens in Eastern Henrico


JULY 19, 7 A.M. – Eastern Henrico's first Walmart Supercenter opens to the public today at 5001 Nine Mile Road. The store, which occupies about 190,000 square feet and employs about 300 people, is located at the site of the former Fairfield Commons Mall, which is now known as Eastgate Town Center. > Read more.

Unattended oily rags cause fire in commercial building near Richmond Raceway


Unattended oily rags that spontaneously combusted caused an early morning two-alarm fire Tuesday in a commercial building in the 3800 block of Carolina Avenue, across from Richmond Raceway.

Henrico firefighters were called at about 5:10 to respond to reports of smoke coming from the building. Once they arrived five minutes later, they found thick smoke pushing from the rood on two sides of a warehouse whose tenant specializes in woodworking and hardwood floors. > Read more.

Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week: July 17-23, 2017


Crime Stoppers needs your help to solve a Hit & Run in the City of Richmond.

The crime occurred in the Carver neighborhood at the intersection of West Broad and Goshen Streets, around 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, May 7. Officers were told the victim was on his motorcycle and traveling westbound on West Broad Street. > Read more.

Henrico County property transactions, July 3-9


A sample of property transactions during this period appear below:

5304 Coxson Rd. – $126,500, 1,819 SF (built in 1953), from Madeline M. Weaver to Kyle and Aja O. Powers.

2451 Yarnell Rd. – $140,700, 1,196 SF (built in 1972), from Albert C. and Mary E. Nolan to Albert C. Nolan Jr.

909 Bowitch Ct. – $194,500, 1,824 SF (built in 2001), from Agnes H. Jones to Mark A. Dawkins. > Read more.

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The 8th annual Richmond International Dragon Boat Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Rocketts Landing. Led by the rhythmic beat of a drum, teams of 20 synchronized paddlers, one drummer and one steersperson race 500 meters up the river in 40-foot canoes rigged with decorative Chinese dragon heads and tails. There will also be Asian cultural performances throughout the day, a Health & Wellness Village, food trucks, craft beer, Marketplace and games and activities in the interactive Kids Zone. Admission is free. For details, visit http://www.sportsbackers.org/events/richmond-international-dragon-boat-festival. Full text

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