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Prosthetic Arm

Yaeger When Miami native Ivan Yaeger was a youngster, he designed an artificial limb for a school science project. That was just the beginning of what would become a long—term commitment to innovation and to helping people with disabilities to lead happier, more productive lives.

Yaeger is a thirty—something entrepreneur and inventor who has won numerous awards for science, engineering, leadership, entrepreneurship and public speaking. He graduated in 1988 from the University of Miami with a degree in business management and organization, and soon after he established Yaeger Innovative Products Corporation and invented its initial line of products. He holds a number of patents on products including the DeskMaster school desk bookstand, the Cassette Lok videocassette childproofing lock, and the Yaeger Prosthetic Arm —his most impressive creation to date.

Yaeger designed a pair of artificial arms using off—the—shelf parts for a little girl in Florida named Diamond Excell who was born without arms. Yaeger was responsible for the technology and the physical construction of the arms. He worked with Eugenio R. Silva, a prosthetist at Advanced Motion Control in Miami, to build, test and fit them. Yaeger took some of the design elements directly from his first design, which he patented while still in college.

Yaeger aimed to build limbs that would give Diamond the basic functions of an elbow, wrist and hand so that she could manipulate and carry objects and eat by herself. He modeled Diamond's hands after those of one of her cousins and covered them with molded latex textured to simulate a real hand, with fingernails and tone that match Diamond's skin color. The arm was then covered with stocking—net material which has padding underneath to protect the electronics and cables inside.

Diamond can open the arms' joints by twitching her back muscles; she closes them by flexing her chest muscles. Two sensors mounted on the harness that holds the arms to her torso allow her to switch between each joint. The wrist can turn nearly all the way around and the elbows are designed so that they swing freely when Diamond walks. While the electronics in the arms may not need to be replaced for four to five years, the arms will need to be lengthened periodically as she grows. While it will take a great deal of practice before she masters them, her arms are already enabling Diamond to hug her family and friends and do many other things she could never do on her own before.

Next, Yaeger plans to approach manufacturers in the artificial limb industry to develop the arms' design so that others like Diamond may also benefit from this magnificent invention. Yaeger currently serves as CEO of The Yaeger Companies, a group of corporations that include Y.I.P. Corporation, The Yaeger Foundation, Inc. and The Yaeger Clinic, Inc. These companies specialize in product development, consulting, educational programming and health care.

In addition to his business activities, Mr. Yaeger has served as motivational speaker, a University of Miami adjunct professor, and as a human resources consultant to several large corporations. As executive director of The Yaeger Foundation, Inc., he created The Technology Leaders Initiative for students and educators, which is designed to stimulate interest in inventing, technology and entrepreneurship. Yaeger is also a member of the King of Clubs and Vocational Service chair of the Rotary Club of North Dade, Florida. He also sits on the boards of organizations such as College Assistance Program, Academy of Finance, and Magnet Educational Choice Association.

[September 2001]



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