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
walking device that would support their child's continued
physical development. It will also allow Mason to join friends
"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,"
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.