Thurston Co. man uses bike parts to create unique prosthetic

SEATTLE -- A Thurston County man who lost his finger in an accident used his love of bicycles to create an unusual prosthetic that's gaining interest around the country.

Roughly 30,000 people lose a finger to amputation every year, and in 2010 Colin Macduff became part of that statistic during an explosives accident.

Instead of getting depressed about the accident, the former Navy man who did two tours of duty in Desert Shield started an entirely new career path.

After the accident, Macduff drew on his education, training and love of bikes to make a creative new prosthetic that gives him the dexterity to do whatever he wants, including working in the bike shop in his garage.

Macduff's wife, Becky, will never forget the day of the accident.

"It was really scary to look at the finger. It was really scary," she said.

Macduff's doctor told him he'd get used to the amputation, but he knew that wasn't going to happen.

"I'm sorry, you'll never get used to this," Macduff said.

He was still in the recovery room after surgery when he was hit with a bolt of inspiration.

"At three in the morning he woke me up and said, 'I'm going to make me a finger out of bicycle parts.' And I just smiled and said, 'You've had too much medication ,you should go back to sleep,'" Becky said.

Back home, Macduff emerged from his shop one day with an odd looking contraption made using pieces of a bike's handlebars. It took him eight hours of cutting, grinding and welding to get the first bio-mechanical finger.

"It's not designed to make a tight fist, it's designed to grab a tool," he said.

With just three moving parts, the design was awarded a U.S. patent and Macduff is now fitting other amputees.

"To give hope back to patient to have function again, to do their job, to do the simplest things like help grab a coffee cup," he said.

It takes about 10 to 12 weeks for a patient to get a new finger, and insurance usually covers 100 percent of the cost.