High Schoolers Develop Device to Help a Child With Muscle Disorder


Highschoolers made a gadget as a offer of help for a young girl with a rare muscular disease / Photo by: Lance Cpl. Michelle Reif via Wikimedia Commons


New technology isn’t exclusively created in large companies or by professional researchers. Some are created in universities, or in schools with even younger students. Recently, a team of students from a Michigan high school engineering class was tasked to create a device to help a six-year-old with a muscular disorder function.

The child the high schoolers helped is Stella Malpass, who has been suffering from Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita. It is a condition that doesn’t allow her to fully extend her arms or legs, effectively crippling her at a young age. Her mother, Kim, states that her daughter can do most things that everyone else can but, “This is one thing in school she needs help with, she can do just about everything on her own, she just doesn’t have the strength to pull her pants up.” She has currently received five surgeries and a lot of physical and occupational therapy--all partly improving her way of life. The students were asked to create a device by the engineering department, which was contacted by Stella’s occupational therapist, Jodi Carroll. Carroll had initially looked at clothing companies to see if a solution could be made for Stella, but ultimately believed in the students from Petoskey High School to invent the device. The students subsequently designed a new device using a 3-D printer. The device includes a plastic piece with collapsible pins on the top and bottom that can be attached to the pants of Stella, making it easier for her to hold and pull her pants up and down.

While this invention was for Stella specifically, the device's application of 3-D printing for those who suffer from this disease has been viewed as commendable. Kim said, “I knew they would come up with something. I’m really grateful these young people came together to help my daughter, it’s wonderful.”