Class Lets Students Engineer Devices for the Disabled

To help a five-year-old with cerebral palsy cut paper as easily as her
classmates, two students at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering designed
an electric scissors attached to a common computer mouse and a
specialized paper stabilizer.

Engineering senior Andrew Reish, of Vienna, Va., and graduate student
Travis McLeod, of Winston-Salem, NC., designed their electric paper
cutting assister as part of a class, BME 260 Devices for Disabled, that
gives engineering students the opportunity to design special instruments
that will enable their disabled clients to function more easily in daily
activities.

"We hope she’ll have higher self-esteem and self-confidence in using this
device," Reish said of the paper cutter. "She’s already able to make paper
dolls and snowflakes. This will provide a lot of fun for her at home and at
(school) work."

Other student projects unveiled Dec. 6 included a device designed to
constrain one arm to force the patient to exercise an impaired limb; a
"pouring palace," which allows a disabled child to pour and measure rice;
a mobile for children in the hospital; an adapted baseball glove for a boy
with Vater's syndrome; and a head and neck support for an adult with
quadriplegia.

The arm constraint therapy device was designed by Kyle Smith, of Fort
Wayne, Ind., and Lynn Wang, of San Francisco. The adapted baseball
glove was developed by David Chong, of Wheaton, Ill. and Billy Watson, of
Tacoma, Wash. The head and neck support was built by Diana Hsu, of
Raleigh, and Elizabeth Strautin, of Mt. Olive; the pouring p[alace was
designed by Martin Elisco, of Long Grove, Ill.; and the mobile for children
was built by Charles Wells of Raleigh.

The students are limited to $500 budgets for each device. Financial
support for this year's class was provided by the National Science
Foundation and the Pratt School.

The project culminated into a short presentation for classmates and
members of the community at the end of the semester. The class is
taught by Larry Bohs, an assistant research professor of biomedical
engineering.