College Students Make Prosthetic Arm for Kindergartener


Three senior biomedical engineering students at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (Rose-Hulman), Terre Haute, Indiana, began work this past September to design and create a prosthetic arm for kindergartner Michael Amerman, who was born with a condition known as bilateral radial and ulnar hypoplasia, which has left him with no forearms and two fingers on each hand. This month Clay Britton, EJ Oruche, and Sara Telezyn presented Michael with the results of their labor, a joy-stick controlled prosthesis that works with the child's fully functional fingers, according to a Rose-Hulman press release.

The device extends Michael's reach and allows him greater independence, while being simple to operate, the press release continued.

Britton, Oruche, and Telezyn traveled weekly to Michael's hometown of Clinton, Indiana, to develop the device. They began by observing him in the kindergarten class before taking measurements and documenting his mobility level. As the development of the prosthetic device progressed, the team used their time with Michael to make adjustments.

Telezyn noted that Michael's condition is so rare that even a specialist they consulted at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, Indianapolis, had never heard of it. She added that the size constraint was one of the biggest challenges the team faced on the project, while Oruche, the electronics specialist on the team, said his individual biggest challenge was making the device operate on battery power.

The team was supervised by professors Kay C. Dee, PhD, and Glen Livesay, PhD, associate professors of applied biology and biomedical engineering, and Renee Rogge, PhD, assistant professor of applied biology and biomedical engineering.