A biomedical engineering student at Rutgers University, as her summer research project, helped build a prosthetic hand for a child.
The student, Katherine Lau, was looking for a summer research project to perform while home in Las Vegas during her summer break from college. Networking among healthcare professionals connected her to University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) mechanical engineering professor Brendan O’Toole.
Yong Dawson turned to UNLV to see what could be done for her daughter, Hailey, who was born with Poland syndrome, which is a birth defect marked by incomplete development of hand and chest muscles, typically on a person’s right side, explains a media release from Rutgers University.
According to the release, O’Toole saw that the third-year Rutgers student had the educational background and leadership skills to tackle the challenge. So he selected her to lead a team of three students to fashion a custom-fitted prosthetic hand for Hailey using 3D printing.
“I want to be a biomedical engineer to improve the lives of others,” Lau says in the release. “That summer, I got to see firsthand what my work can do.”
Lau’s team adapted public domain designs for 3D-printed hands to fit the child’s size and accommodate the specific nature of her deformity. Working with Hailey throughout the summer, they fashioned a hand with fingers that grasped objects while she bent her wrist forward.
Lau’s project was enabled by a research stipend from Rutgers University’s Douglass Residential College through a longstanding program to support women pursuing degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, per the release.
Although Lau’s assignment in Las Vegas lasted for only a summer, O’Toole remained involved with the project, tasking his students to improve on Lau’s design for their senior design projects, the release notes.
[Source(s): Rutgers University, Science Daily]