How Calvin College engineering students’ invention helps boy who can only move a few fingers

June 12, 2011

How Calvin College engineering students’ invention helps boy who can only move a few fingers

The Grand Rapids Press | June 8, 2011 | By Aaron Albanese

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BYRON TOWNSHIP — Isaac Postma directed his new motorized stroller across the Byron Center Christian School gymnasium floor, navigating his way with a rear-view camera, a couple of buttons and one finger.

The new means of mobility for Isaac, 10, who has spinal muscular atrophy and is limited to the use of just a few fingers, means he can more easily travel the halls of Byron Christian School where he is in fourth grade, join peers on the playground and roll around on the trails outside his grandparents’ cottage.

“Up north,” Isaac said when asked where he most looks forward to using the stroller designed by four Calvin College students. Electrical engineering students Matt Rozema and Rob VanderVennen and mechanical engineering students Matt Last and Dan Evans designed the cart from scratch. They spent more than 1,800 hours of their senior year building it before their graduation in May.

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Brody’s smile makes efforts worthwhile

June 10, 2011

Brody’s smile makes efforts worthwhile

The Examiner | June 6, 2011

MAYFIELD mother of three Bianca Dance said a weight was lifted off her shoulders yesterday – and a smile from her three-year-old son Brody Westergreen was just the icing on the cake.
Ms Dance spent the past three months organising a family fun day, which was held at the Rocherlea Football Ground yesterday.

Money raised at the event will help buy Brody, who has type two spinal muscular atrophy, an electric wheelchair.

Brody’s debilitating disease is slowly robbing him of his ability to move his arms and legs, and will one day take his life.

More than $20,000 had already been raised for the wheelchair, and Ms Dance was hoping an extra $10,000 would be raised at the fun day.

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Big Meaning in the Smallest Movements

June 3, 2011

Big Meaning in the Smallest Movements

BU Today | June 2, 2011 | By Robin Berghaus

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Born with spastic quadriplegia and cerebral palsy, 49-year-old Rick Hoyt has never been able to speak or use his hands to write. But that doesn’t mean he can’t communicate.

Hoyt (left, SED’93), who is best known for competing in more than 1,000 races, pushed in a wheelchair by his father, Dick Hoyt, is testing assistive technology developed through a decadelong collaboration between Margrit Betke, a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of computer science, and James Gips, a Boston College professor of computer science, with help from more than 50 students.

Camera Mouse, a tool for people with medical conditions such as cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, ALS, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury, employs a computer webcam to lock onto and track a chosen section of the user’s face—a nostril or the tip of an eyebrow, for example—and then links that person’s head movement to a cursor on the screen. Move right and the cursor goes right. If Hoyt pauses for more than one second, dwelling over a button or link, it clicks to active.

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Birmingham youngster surprised with new wheelchair

May 31, 2011

Birmingham youngster surprised with new wheelchair

Birmingham Mail | May 30, 2011 | By Christina Savvas

A DISABLED youngster was stunned when she was given a new wheelchair by a volunteer she had gone to surprise with a thank you for his work.

Libby Smalley, who has the muscle-wasting condition spinal muscular atrophy, presented a gift to Alexander Patrick to mark the 25th anniversary of his grant-giving fund the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s welfare trust .

The 11-year-old, from Castle Vale, handed over a collage of thank-you letters from some of the thousands of children and adults helped by the fund.

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Apple iPad Helps Give Voice To Those Who Can’t Speak

April 5, 2011

Apple iPad Helps Give Voice To Those Who Can’t Speak

FOX 8 (Cleveland) | April 5, 2011 | By Debra Alfarone

When you think of Apple’s top-selling “it” product, the iPad, you probably think of long lines for the product at Apple stores, and maybe even the wealthy techno-yuppies that carry it around, but the iPad is also being used in a more altruistic manner to speak for those who can’t.

Speech therapists at Lincoln Community School in Bayonne, New Jersey have been using an iPad complete with Prologuo2go software (http://www.proloquo2go.com) to teach autistic children, many of whom don’t speak, to communicate.

Speech therapist Carmella Barbieri works closely with the children, “It’s great, so he can express a sentence to his teacher or to his peers and can communicate with others through devices like this.”

The device can spell out commands and requests and speak them aloud, such as “I need apple juice'” or “I need to go to the bathroom.”

Principal Dennis Degnan says the iPad has been a huge success, “It’s automatic feedback and it makes them feel good about themselves.”

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Mya’s brave walk for friend

March 24, 2011

Mya’s brave walk for friend

The Border Mail | March 24, 2011

A FRIENDSHIP forged through hardship is the driving force behind a seven-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer’s plan to walk Dean Street.

Albury’s Mya Irving is hoping people will sponsor the eight-block walk next month in a bid to raise the $35,000 needed to modify a car to take an electric wheelchair for her friend Rajah Sutherland, 5.

Rajah suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that weakens the spine and muscles and forces her to rely on a wheelchair.

The pair met through a disability support service and hydrotherapy.

Without the modified car her Jindera mother Ellen Sutherland is largely housebound.

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Malvern Blooms 2011 Will Benefit Sweet Baby Zane, Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

March 24, 2011

Malvern Blooms 2011 Will Benefit Sweet Baby Zane, Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy

MalvernPatch | March 24, 2011 | By Pete Kennedy

A portion of proceeds from this year’s Malvern Blooms Festival will be donated to Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, who will use the money to purchase car seats for children with the disease.

The donation will be facilitated by Sweet Baby Zane, a Malvern-based group founded in memory of Zane Schmid, who succumbed to type I SMA at just five months old. Her twin sister, Avery, does not carry the SMA gene.

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