High School Students Design Robotic Arm

Students from Hewitt-Trussville High School, Trussville, Alabama, have designed a robotic arm for Jamison Franklin, the brother of one of the developers and a former student, who was paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a car accident. The students are in a senior biomedical innovations class, part of the Biomedical Sciences Academy within the high school.

Darby Franklin, Franklin's sister, and her classmates, along with teachers Chris Walters and Chris Bond, designed an assistive device to help Jamison regain some independence.

The device is composed of a mechanical system and a hinged brace that simulates an elbow. The group is testing to see if it can use the motors to raise the brace. Next they will design the hand and its motor.

Franklin uses a sip-and-puff system that will work to control the arm and hand after the mechanics are completed and assembled. The other piece of the design is electrical stimulation, which will trigger the contraction and relaxation of the particular muscles to reduce atrophy.

The class is hoping to raise up to $5,000 through corporate donations to continue development.