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M.S.

Mechanical Engineering

Jun 2016
Our project is aimed at helping kids with physical disability in South Africa

We are doing that by creating a postural support device. We’re focusing on helping children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy creates a disconnect between the brain and the muscles, and in a sense the muscles don’t know when to fire. When you and I want to lift something up, we can fire a bicep muscle and pick it up. So rather than not firing at all, with cerebral palsy what tends to happen is the muscles fire all of the time. … When this happens tendons get shortened and stuck, which results in things like unnatural positioning of hands. … We’re working to design and build something to prevent kids from getting stuck in non-functional positions.

Our team is made up of three engineers and one medical student who was an engineering undergrad, so we have a good mix here. We’ve been talking to people in the medical school and therapists in the Bay Area to better understand the physical therapy and medical side so we can design effectively to solve this problem.