Project History

The Design Evolution
The Design Evolution

Designing a Legacy

When industrial designer Ernie Meadows and his wife, Marj, lost their daughter, Ellen, Ernie decided to create a legacy to their daughter's memory. Ellen died in an automobile accident when she was 18 years old.

Originally Ernie intended to design a functional prosthetic hand for children and adolescent land mine victims. Over time he developed a design for a low-cost, light, durable, functional  prosthetic hand. He knew that this would help all who need a prosthetic hand and who could not afford the available alternatives.  

Our experience today informs us that those who benefit from the LN-4 hand may have been injured by landmines, work accidents, electricity, acts of violence, or a congenital condition. 

In 2006 Ernie gave this prosthetic hand to Rotarian friends, specifically to the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation, specifying that no one profit from the production or distribution and that no recipient be charged.

During 2007 our efforts were devoted largely to the development of our manufacturing capability; a few hundred prototype LN-4s were built and distributed before 2007. The Rotary Clubs of RI District 5160, in northern California, were instrumental in providing the funding support and the Rotarian time and effort to make this our improved manufacturing possible.

Other Rotary clubs and friends have also supported our efforts, with cash and other support, all of which have resulted in the successful production of the parts for the LN-4s and the distribution of over 3500 LN-4 hands, around the globe.

Once the parts are produced, we initially worked with Rotary Clubs, churches and especially youth groups to assemble and quality check all of our production of LN-4s. We have a corporate partner, Odyssey Teams, who now assembles the majority of our LN-4 hands for us and has an excellent record of producing quality hands for us in a timely way.

Since the start of 2008 we have produced and assembled several thousand LN-4s. We have begun to expand the distribute these LN-4s in many of the places our research informs us that there is a need for the LN-4. We work with Rotary clubs and other friends, as partners in many places to organize fitting events for large numbers of people; LN-4 teams have carried LN-4s to the countries of east Africa, Colombia, Ecuador, Vietnam, India, Jordan and more. Smaller numbers of LN-4s have been carried by traveling Rotarians and other friends to many more places.

Our goal is to work with more Rotary Clubs in more places, to expand our ability to deliver the LN-4 where ever it is needed and where ever it can be of use.

Our LN-4 teams that travel to conduct fitting clinics are trained to do this work in advance. The members of these LN-4 teams are responsible for the delivery of the LN-4 prosthetics, the related fitting materials and especially the on-site recipient training.

Costs associated with travel and logistics are paid for by the individual team members - no cost to the foundation.

Please review the world map on this site for more detail about the places we have already carried the LN-4 prosthetic.


revised July 2010