On June 2nd 2017, a group of five team members ventured to Mrs. Hunt’s house to visit their prospective project; a young girl with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1. At first, Team 135 was unsure of how we would be able to help this young girl become more independent. Thanks to nonprofit groups such as ATMakers, we were able to learn about the challenges this little girl has to face on an everyday basis. Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1 prohibits her from developing muscle, meaning she is incapable of moving on her own, even speaking. Although she is incapable of traditional speak, she’s still able to communicate with the use of an amplification device called the Eye Gaze. Due to this lack of communication, she struggles to express herself with her peers. We are trying to improve the quality of her life by developing technological solutions to everyday problems that people overlook, such as our ways of communication and entertainment. Our first objectives were to improve the power chair, make more finger sensor holders, and prototype new versions of her arm chair stabilizers. All of these projects were definitely attainable and a great start to the new year.
Upon our first consultation, Team 135 learned many things not only about this little girl, but also about her family and their lifestyles. We arrived to the Hunt’s house and entered through the garage, upon which we went directly to their cleaning room to disinfect our things. This high tech room was equipped with all the primary cleaning supplies, and even some new gadgets that we hadn’t seen before like a phone sanitizing box. We swiftly cleaned our things and walked into the house to personally meet this little girl. She was laying on a table watching her favorite YouTuber, Ethan Gamer. As she was watching this young YouTuber, we discussed with her mom about future improvements. We also showed her the devices that we finished. For example, the mounts for her buttons that she uses to drive her chair. Another improvement was a new program that enabled her to drive her chair more reliably.
This is Ella, and Team 135 is helping engineer solutions to improve her way of life.