The sound of Mason Unton's tennis shoes scampering down the hallway of his elementary school was music to the ears of his parents and the three senior biomedical engineering students that designed a device to assist his walking movement.
The 6-year-old boy has spastic cerebral palsy, which limits movement of his right hand and both of his legs. He spent his first days on life support, and physicians didn't give much hope for a long-term prognosis. His mother's wish was for Mason to someday return her loving smiles.
Mason's parents, Chris and Kristy Unton, approached Rose-Hulman for help in updating a juvenile assistive
walking device that would support their child's continued physical development. It will also allow Mason to join friends playing sports.
"He's advancing every day, and this device will give him more independence," says Chris (CS, 2002). "The fact that my college is helping my son makes this even more special."
Seniors Aaron Kiraly, Jordan Oja, and Geoff Schau spent considerable time getting to know Mason and his parents. Special requests included a seat, hand brakes, and something green, Mason's favorite color.
From there, the students studied video of Mason's movements. They
|examined physical tolerances, taking into account that Mason is an energetic boy. Finally, they created a prototype with numerous hand-crafted parts.
"This is about as hands-on as a project can get," says Schau.
The walking device was one of several biomedical engineering capstone design projects students completed this academic year for personal or corporate clients.
"We really believe that students get a lot out of doing real projects for real people," says Kay C Dee, Ph.D., co-instructor of the biomedical engineering design course.