Adapted Baseball Glove

Designers: David Chong, Billy Watson
Client Coordinators: Robbin Newton, OT, Lenox Baker Children’s Hospital
Supervising Professor: Dr. Larry N. Bohs

Our client is a nine-year-old boy with VATER association who likes to play baseball. He was born with a shortened radius, and his index finger was surgically moved to replace his missing thumb. His right arm and hand have approximately one-half the strength of the left side. The gloves that he used previously limited his playing ability because they were either too small or too hard to close. We created an adapted baseball glove that is easier to close and relatively lightweight. This was accomplished by modifying a commercially available Wilson EZ-Catch glove, adding a V-flex notch, extending the Velcro strap, and including an aluminum extension for his thumb.

How this project helped
The glove improves our client’s ability to catch, while having a normal appearance. With our new glove, he makes one-handed catches, which he could not do with either of his previous gloves. His ability to close the glove is markedly improved, and he likes the look and feel of the glove. His mother said, “He is using it now for spring baseball and it really helps. It has fit into his life very smoothly, and he has just improved in skill and in confidence. He doesn’t even really think of it as a help anymore! It’s great that he feels that way, and that he’s not wearing a brace for stability.” The client said, “It definitely helps and it’s very comfortable.”

We modified an existing glove instead of creating a new one, since we wanted the final product to look as normal as possible. We examined several different commercially available gloves and decided to combine features from each into one glove. The Wilson EZ-Catch (Figure 2, left panel) was chosen as the base glove for modification. It had an increased catching area, and by hand-testing, it was the easiest to close of all the gloves. It also had only three finger stalls, as the design called for the third and fourth finger to be used in one stall for more power. This feature worked out well, since our client had three fingers. After breaking in the glove, it was ready for more modifications. We incorporated the V-flex design of Mizuno youth gloves into the base glove, using a slightly different cut, as shown in the left panel of Figure 2. Since our client closed the glove in a certain way due to his hand, we found that a cut at his natural hinge was optimal for increasing flexibility. His hand was relatively small, and the existing Velcro strap did not close the glove enough to secure his hand. Thus, an additional piece of Velcro was attached to the glove to allow tighter binding of the Velcro strap, as shown in the center panel of Figure 2. To allow his relatively short fingers to reach further into the stalls, we created finger extensions. After testing several prototypes of varying hardness and lengths, we determined that aluminum offered the best combination of light weight and strength. We obtained small rectangular sheet aluminum and rolled strips into cylinders, flattening the top to slip into the glove easily. Trials were performed with different combinations of finger extensions of his fingers and thumb. The finger extensions added a measure of stiffness that could hinder the flexibility of the glove. We concluded that the best solution was a slightly bent aluminum extension for his thumb only (Figure 1, right panel). Foam padding was added for comfort and safety. The cost of parts and material for the Adapted Baseball Glove was about $37.

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