22 Mar

The Play Attachment Project: Re-thinking the Split Hook

The Play Attachment Project: Re-thinking the Split Hook The Play Attachment Project: Re-thinking the Split Hook The Play Attachment Project: Re-thinking the Split Hook The Play Attachment Project: Re-thinking the Split Hook
“The split hook is offered in the prosthetics department at many paediatric care facilities as the most functional option for limb-absent children age two and over. I have found that most children are unable to open mechanical hands due to the high pull-force required to overcome the tension in them. By contrast, split hooks are easier to operate because the rubber bands that provide tension to the grip can be altered to suit the user's needs – as well as being lighter, more reliable, and easier to maintain. 
Unfortunately, despite its advantages, the split hook has negative connotations. It is perceived by many as ugly and outdated, and parents have an associated fear of stigmatism for their children. Over the years my colleagues and I at the Harold Wood Long Term Conditions Centre have also regularly heard negative comments about its appearance. These issues led our team to investigate the creation of a child-friendly and customisable cosmetic attachment that would make the split hook more attractive and desirable. We decided to conduct a split hook makeover. We first asked ourselves - what would make the split hook more acceptable to children and their parents? We decided we needed to change the colour, disguise the hook, and make it a more playful, personalised design.
Initial designs used a combination of Lego® blocks, screws, and glue to build a Lego® platform on top of the split hook, as well as coloured sheaths on the hooks so that the prosthesis could become part of a child's play habits. This play attachment produced consistently positive results.
We also used a colourful silicone tubing to replace the original beige-coloured rubber covers for the hook "fingers." Being able to give children choices of colours for the silicone tubing and Lego® allows them to get involved in the design process and make their device personal to their own tastes. The children can also use their own Lego® sets to personalise their prostheses."
"We call the new design the “Play Attachment”. Throughout the design process, it has been our aim to make the Play Attachment easy to manufacture, inexpensive, and therefore available to the widest audience.

We currently have 6 children who have been fitted with the Play Attachment. It is offered in our department to every child who is being considered for a split hook. All the children who have gone ahead with a split hook fitting have also requested the Play Attachment.
Feedback was invited from the families involved, and the responses were very positive and encouraging.”
“She feels more included as it encourages more play and interaction”
“Having a Lego attachment is an incentive as it adds more function”
“Having a multi-coloured arm and pink hook makes her wear it more”
“Found it helpful as a distraction from the act of having to wear a prosthesis”
“It makes it a lot more child-friendly, fun and more of a talking point than something which otherwise looks scary and brutal”

If anyone would like to try making their own Play Attachment or find out more about the project, then you can contact Marjorie at marj.tulloch@steepergroup.com