A Tennessee Tech University engineering student has earned a first place award in an international contest for his redesign of a therapeutic medical device for a child with cerebral palsy.
Jeremy Prince, a mechanical engineering major from Murfreesboro, was selected for the award in the college engineering category of Dimension 3D printers' 2011 Extreme Redesign Contest.
"This is a very prestigious and competitive international competition, and Jeremy made it," said Ismail Fidan, a professor of manufacturing and industrial technology at TTU. "Jeremy is a very sharp, hands-on student, and I am sure that he will do great wherever he goes and works."
Prince's redesign of a prone stander improves adjustability and functionality to build muscle definition in the legs of a child with cerebral palsy, and it is currently in use at Algood Elementary School.
Prone standers are used to assist people to upright standing positions so that people with disabilities can bear weight on their legs. The devices typically come in small, medium and large sizes, but those generic categories are inadequate for a significant segment of the population, Prince discovered.
"Children who have CP are all different shapes and sizes, so most don't fit in a generic small, medium or large stander," Prince said. "With this redesign, I ran a matlab code for pin locations and a structural analysis for material selection, and my team and I have now fabricated and implemented this prone stander in the local elementary school."
In addition to helping improve leg muscle tone, the prone stander may also help to improve respiratory and digestive system functioning, joint flexibility, bone development, head control and more.
While the devices typically cost around $4,300, Prince's redesign — which he donated for use at the school — cost less than $700.
Prince has been a research assistant in Fidan's rapid prototype lab for almost two years.
"He has done many challenging 3D models and tutorials for my various projects," Fidan said. "He has done lectures and workshops in 3D design and modeling for Metro Nashville public school teachers and mentors as part of TTU's Art2STEM Project too."