Pacific Beach company builds prosthetic hands for land mine victims

The Control Group lends a helping hand to amputees

SAN DIEGO - There are more than 300,000 victims of land mines and 20 percent of them are children. The Control Group, a Pacific Beach based tech company, recently took a break and built prosthetic hands for the amputees who need them.

"Excited is definitely the right word for it," said Sean Shahrokhi of the Control Group. "For the most part we're sitting there in a very virtual environment. This is something that is actually tangible, we can hand it over to someone ... There's a little bit of magic to that."

Each hand begins as 30 pieces of metal and plastic. Over the course of a couple of hours, it will turn into a prosthetic hand that can grip tightly enough to hold a pen, and has a wide enough grasp to grab an arm. The teams of employees who build the prosthetics wear blue mitts on one hand -- so they can experience the difficulty many of these land mine victims can experience performing basic tasks.

"It's surprisingly difficult," said Shahrokhi, struggling to handle a small piece of metal with one hand. "Just having [my hand] restrained ... it's not as easy as you'd think."

It is all part of a team-building exercise administered by Odyssey Teams, Inc. The hands are part of the Give a Hand Project, which has delivered thousands of prosthetics to countries like Columbia and Afghanistan.

"There's a land mine going off every 20 minutes in the world somewhere," said Todd Demorest of Odyssey Teams, Inc. "Children or adults out there will be taking care of their herds or their livestock and a bomb goes off ... That's the need we're taking care of."

According to the Helping Hands Project, prosthetics often cost between $5,000 and $10,000 in the developing world. The Control Group built about 15 hands, which means 15 lives changed at no cost to the victims.

"Here in San Diego, we have so many people who are in the armed forces. So many of our loved ones who are in these places like Afghanistan and Iraq," said Shahrokhi after successfully building a hand. "It's just a great opportunity to give back."

Print this article Back to Top