Tulane Students' Designs Help Disabled Gain Independence

April 4, 2006

Michael Strecker
Phone: (504) 865-5210

Devices to help rescuers locate disabled people during emergency situations such as Katrina and a special writing tool that will help someone with cerebral palsy take art classes are among student inventions that will be on display April 8 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the lobby of the Boggs Center for Energy and Biotechnology at Tulane University.

The displays are the result of classroom projects assigned by Tulane University biomedical engineering professor David Rice. Each year students in Rice's Team Design class are introduced to disabled residents with problems hampering their independence such as getting out of or into a bathtub, feeding themselves, managing stairs, performing job duties or pursuing a hobby.

The students divide into teams that design and build workable devices to solve their client's problem. Rice hopes the classroom lessons will give students practical design experience and also inspire them to seek careers that use engineering technology to help the disabled lead fuller lives.

This year's design projects include a device that will repetitively send a voice message to rescuers stating a disabled person's location and a design that uses Global Positioning Satellite technology to enable rescuers to locate disabled residents.

Other designs include a chair to support a child with amyoplasia congenital, a rare disease that freezes joints in place, a van transport system for a client with brittle bone disease, a spoon support system to assist a cerebral palsy client feed himself and special ramp that will give a client with multiple dystrophy access to his New Orleans home.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000