Invention may help children with mobility issues

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —    Monica, Michael and Bradley recently returned from an engineering competition in Boston where they showcased this year’s project.

It’s a kit that makes items like a toy car usable for children with limited mobility.

Monica told us, “We looked at available products on the market and how much they cost and how they operate.”

The idea for the car started with a request from a physical therapist at LeBonheur Children’s Hospital.

“The largest challenge was figuring out how to combine the power controller and the steering controller into one unit.”

The students worked on their design at the crews center on the U of M campus which was equipped with a 3d printer that was invaluable to the project.

“It is very rewarding to be able to go out into the community ask them what their needs are, solicit their needs and then bring them back and turn the students loose,” said Dr. Gary Bowlin.

Now that it’s complete, the design looks simple.

The kit can be used with any motorized toy and doesn’t require any wiring just plug it in and snap things together.

Bradley Bomar said, “The way the car works all they have to do is depress it about 5 degrees and it makes the car go forward.”

That’s extremely important for someone like 2-year-old Jordan Allen who has Spina Bifida and is paralyzed from the waist down.

Pressing a foot pedal isn’t an option for him.

Therapist Susan Anderson said when children can’t explore their surroundings on their own it slows their development, “If they don’t have that ability then they lose, they get behind on cognitive and social skills as well as their motor abilities.”

Power chairs can cost up to $10,000 but if a product like this could be mass marketed it could be affordable for almost any family.

The design team said if it were mass produced, the kit could probably be produced for $150.

Jordan’s mom, Sherita, watched her son endure surgery and a grueling four-month hospital stay.

Watching him in the car is as much fun for her as driving the car is for Jordan, “A big thank you goes out to them and i hope to see it on the market soon.”

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