DiversityNursing Blog

College Kids Make Robotic Arms For Children Without Real Ones

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Mar 10, 2015 @ 12:39 PM

 Daphne Sashin

tumblr nkfwe40oqK1slwefto1 1280 resized 600

By the time Cynthia Falardeau read about Alex Pring, a little boy who got a battery-powered robotic arm last summer, she had made peace with her son Wyatt's limb difference. 

Her premature baby had been born with his right arm tangled in amniotic bands. At a week old, doctors amputated his dead forearm and hand. They were afraid his body would be become infected and he would die. Falardeau mourned her boy's missing arm for years but, in time, embraced her son as he was. 

Wyatt also learned to adapt. They tried a couple of prosthetics when he was younger and each time the toddler abandoned the false limb within months. 

"His main interest was to create a shocking response from onlookers by pulling it off in the grocery store," Falardeau wrote on CNN iReport. In truth, she had been more concerned about getting him therapy for his autism-related delays -- the limb difference was secondary.

So when a friend shared a story from the "Today Show" with Wyatt in mind, about a team of University of Central Florida (UCF) students and graduates that made an electronic arm for 6-year-old Pring using a three-dimensional printer on campus, Falardeau was defensive. 

"He doesn't need this," she thought. 

Her fifth-grader had a different reaction: "I want one of these robot arms!" Falardeau remembers Wyatt telling her and her husband. "I could ride a bike! I might even be able to paddle a kayak!" 

There were other things the 12-year-old boy said he would do if he had two hands. A proper somersault. Clap with two hands. Dance with a pretty girl with one hand on her back and the other leading. Stuff she hadn't really thought about but he clearly had.

Falardeau got in touch with the Orlando students through E-Nable, an online volunteer organization started by Rochester Institute of Technology research scientist Jon Schull to match people who have 3-D printers with children in need of hands and arms. The organization creates and shares bionic arm designs for free download at EnablingTheFuture.org that can be assembled for as little as $20 to $50. Middle and high school student groups and Girl and Boy Scout troops are among those donating their time and materials to assemble limbs for kids and give them to recipients for free.

The UCF team, which operates a nonprofit called Limbitless Solutions, is special because it's the only group in the 3-D volunteer network making electronic arms. Most 3-D arms are mechanical, which presents a challenge for children without elbows. With mechanical arms, the child opens and closes their hand by bending their elbow. The students came up with the idea for an electronic arm with a muscle sensor that allows the child to open and close their hand by flexing their bicep.

"It's really just a step-by-step process of solving problems. The first problem we solved was: how do we make the hand move electronically? And then: how do we attach this arm to a child?" said sophomore Tyler Petresky. "It's just one problem after another we keep solving. That's what engineering is all about." 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 1,500 babies in the United States are born with upper limb deformities each year. Comprehensive statistics aren't available for the number of children with amputations, such as Wyatt. 

The UCF project started when Albert Manero, an engineering doctoral student, heard a story on the radio about one of the inventors of the 3-D printed hand. He got involved with E-Nable and met Alex, a local boy teased because of his missing arm, and set about designing a robotic replacement. They gave it to Alex for free. 

"My mother taught us that we're supposed to help change the world," Manero said at the time."We're supposed to help make it better." 

The students were blown away by what happened after that. The "Today Show" and other national news outlets featured stories about Alex and Manero, and then they got international attention. Families in more than 25 countries have asked the UCF students to help their children. In February, Microsoft highlighted the team in a social media campaign celebrating students using technology to change the world.

Each electronic limb takes about 30 to 50 hours to make and assemble. The students use the printer in the school's manufacturing lab and cover the cost of materials -- about $350 -- through donations.

Petresky got involved with the design of Pring's hand because Manero knew he was good with electronics. 

"He bribed me with some pulled pork sandwiches. I went over to his house and helped him out with electronics," he said. "I found out he was working on an arm, and I thought that was the coolest thing in the world."

Eventually Manero moved to Germany for a Fulbright scholarship and left Petresky in charge of running the operations in Orlando.

Petresky says they ask every family about the child's favorite color, superhero and interests, so the new limb can "not just be a piece of plastic ... but be a part of them." 

As they've designed the bionics, they've learned that kids don't necessarily want to blend in. Children have requested colorful designs inspired by superheroes, Disney's "Frozen," and in Wyatt's case, the blue-skinned men from "Blue Man Group." For Christmas, the group upgraded Alex's plain vanilla white arm to a new one resembling Optimus Prime from "Transformers."

"We quickly found out this is much less about fitting in and feeling normal, and much more about expressing yourself," Petresky said. "There's a large aspect of being artistic and being creative."

The team has made electronic arms for five children and are working with three more kids including Wyatt. He traveled with his mom to UCF last week and practiced flexing his muscle to make the hand open and close.

He expects to get fitted with his new arm later this month.

His mom, Cynthia, was most excited about seeing Wyatt being celebrated for who he is.

"The adoration of college students was an affirmation that money can't buy. He was wrapped in the joy of leading and advising students on how to help children like himself," she wrote in her iReport. "Wyatt felt like he was making a difference for himself and other children."

As they got ready to leave the campus, her son told her he can't wait to see what he will accomplish with his new arm. And someday, he said, he wants to go to UCF and help other kids like him.

Source: www.cnn.com

Topics: robotic, limbs, robot, technology, health, children, medical, patients, college, students, robotic arm, 3-D printer

Docs urge delayed school start times for teens

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Tue, Sep 02, 2014 @ 02:30 PM

By Michelle Healy

1408713484000 AP BACK TO SCHOOL LATE START SCHOOLS 57222724 resized 600

Let them sleep!

That's the message from the nation's largest pediatrician group, which, in a new policy statement, says delaying the start of high school and middle school classes to 8:30 a.m. or later is "an effective countermeasure to chronic sleep loss" and the "epidemic" of delayed, insufficient, and erratic sleep patterns among the nation's teens.

Multiple factors, "including biological changes in sleep associated with puberty, lifestyle choices, and academic demands," negatively impact teens' ability to get enough sleep, and pushing back school start times is key to helping them achieve optimal levels of sleep – 8½ to 9½ hours a night, says the American Academy of Pediatrics statement, released Monday and published online in Pediatrics.

Just 1 in 5 adolescents get nine hours of sleep on school nights, and 45% sleep less than eight hours, according to a 2006 poll by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).

"As adolescents go up in grade, they're less likely with each passing year to get anything resembling sufficient sleep," says Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and lead author of the AAP statement. "By the time they're high school seniors, the NSF data showed they were getting less than seven hours of sleep on average."

Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents "can, without hyperbole, really be called a public health crisis," Owens says.

Among the consequences of insufficient sleep for teens, according to the statement:


  • Increased risk for obesity, stroke and type 2 diabetes; higher rates of automobile accidents; and lower levels of physical activity.
  • Increased risk for anxiety and depression; increased risk-taking behaviors; impaired interpretation of social/emotional cues, decreased motivation and increased vulnerability to stress.
  • Lower academic achievement, poor school attendance; increased dropout rates; and impairments in attention, memory, organization and time management.

Napping, extending sleep on weekends and caffeine consumption can temporarily counteract sleepiness, but they do not restore optimal alertness and are not a substitute for regular, sufficient sleep, the AAP says.

Delaying school start time is a necessary step, but not the only step needed to help adolescents get enough sleep, Owens says. "Other competing priorities in most teenagers' lives are also components of this problem," she says, including homework, after-school jobs, extracurricular activities and electronic media use. Computers and television screens, she adds, "produce enough light to suppress melatonin levels and make it more difficult to fall asleep."

"The bottom line is if school starts at 7:20 there is no way for the average adolescent to get the 8½ to 9½ hours of sleep they need," Owens says

Research on student performance in schools that have reset the start clock, including Minneapolis Public Schools, "shows benefits across the board," says Kyla Wahlstrom, director of the Center for Applied Research and Education Improvement at the University of Minnesota.

"We've found statistically significant evidence that attendance is improved, tardiness is decreased and academic performance on core subjects, English, math, social studies and science, is improved. And now we have evidence that on national standardized tests such as the ACT, there's improvement there, too," Wahlstrom says.

Obstacles commonly cited to changing school start schedules, include curtailed time for athletic practices and games, reduced after-school employment hours for students and significant impact on bus scheduling and other transportation arrangements, she says, adding, "This is a major policy change that schools have to grapple with if they want to embrace the research about what we know about teens."

According to U.S. Department of Education statistics approximately 43% of the more than 18,000 public high schools in the U.S. have a start time before 8 a.m.; just 15% started at 8:30 a.m. or later.

In some school districts that transport students great distances, buses are picking up students as early as 5:45 a.m., "so there's also a safety element" to early start times, says Terra Ziporyn Snider, executive director of the advocacy group Start School Later.

Other major health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have all highlighted insufficient sleep in adolescents as a serious health risk, as has U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Snider says.

"What's unique about the American Academy of Pediatrics' statement is that it's very specific," she says. "It says very clearly that high school and middle schools should not start before 8:30 a.m. for the sake of the health and sleep of our children. They draw the red line."

Source: http://www.usatoday.com

Topics: school, time, early, education, doctors, children, sleep, teens, students

7 Surprising Facts From a School Nurse

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 01:05 PM

By: American Profile

images (1) resized 600

School nursing started out as a practical solution for Beth Mattey: The mom of three liked the hours. Now, 27 years later, she says it was the perfect career choice—creative, independent and full of meaning. “As Maya Angelou said, ‘People never forget how you made them feel,’” Mattey says. “That’s the connection that school nurses make.” We asked Mattey what parents might be surprised to know about her job—and their kids.

1. Sadness is one of the most common illnesses she sees in students. “Kids are anxious and want to do well,” she says, noting a 2012 National Association of School Nurses report that the top five health conditions of U. S. children are mental health- related, issues that school nurses spend about a third of their time helping students cope with.

2. Every kid should carry a water bottle. Dehydration is often the cause of headaches, another common complaint among kids, Mattey says. Also a culprit? Lack of sleep.

3. School nurses need to know your secrets. In addition to any chronic conditions your student is coping with, update your school’s nurse on any big family news like an illness, death or divorce. Your instinct might be to keep such facts private, but the nurse can offer your child valuable support.

4. Your kids aren’t eating the lunch you pack. “I often ask teens what they had for lunch, and they say, ‘Chips.’ We need to help them understand the value of nutrition and to make good choices,” Mattey says.

5. A “mental health day” is not a stress solution. Allowing your anxious teen a day off won’t get to the root of the cause. “If a kid is too stressed to go school, find out why,” Mattey says. “Is she being bullied? Did she not do her homework?”

6. Teens need vaccines. Make sure yours is up to date on the Tdap or tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis; meningitis—one at age 11, the second at age 16; and the HPV (human papilloma virus).

7. A school nurse can be a teen’s— and parent’s—best friend. Mattey sees herself as supporting students, physically and emotionally. After all, she’s there day after day, year after year. “School nurses provide a safety net,” she says.

Source: www.tauntongazette.com

Topics: school nurse, school, kids, patients, list, students

15 Things Every Nursing Student Needs to Know

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Mon, Mar 10, 2014 @ 12:47 PM


of course I am tired I am a nursing Student

When I entered nursing school I knew very few people who were nurses. I questioned everyone that I thought might know anything about nursing on what I needed to know to do well in nursing school. Honestly I was given very little practical advice. But I don’t think it was the fault of the people I asked. I honestly think that many in nursing school struggle to make it through and wipe many of those memories from their brain. But I’m a firm believer that the nursing school experience doesn’t have to be a terrible one. And even though it’s going to be hard, you will be tired, and you’re probably not going to have a great social life, you can make it through nursing school while enjoying the experience (or at least not completely hating it!).

One of my personal goals in nursing has been to help mentor new and emerging nurses to give them the knowledge they need to be successful. I want to share what I’ve learned with you to make nursing school a little more tolerable.

The following represents 15 things that I feel every nursing student needs to know.

1. Nursing is nothing like you think it will be.

Even if your life is filled with nurses and you think you know exactly what you will encounter when you hit the floor you will soon find that you know nothing. I could give you a hundred examples but you won’t get it until you’ve been there. There are so many facets or nursing that you just can’t understand until you have lived it. Don’t feel bad about it just see it as an opportunity grow and learn.

2. You don’t need nearly as many books as is on your syllabus.

Although many may not agree with me on this, in my humble opinion that $1000 in text books per semester is outrageous and unneeded. Most of the information you need will be delivered in class and you might only look at them for a sentence or two. I suggest finding out who your instructors are and asking them if you really need 4 books for the 2 credit class you are taking. If you can’t reduce the amount of books you need to buy then you should partner with a friend and each buy half the books then share. If you’re working together as study buddies then you won’t miss the books that you didn’t purchase. Also, you should buy your nursing textbooks online from somewhere like Amazon. Most of the time you get free 2-day shipping and it’s usually much cheaper than the college bookstore.

3. You probably won’t keep your 4.0

If you’re a perfectionist then you are among your people. Many nurses have type A personalities and strive for their best. This often includes making good grades. But alas, dear nursling, you might not be able to maintain that immaculate 4.0 you’ve had throughout the rest of your college experience. Nursing school is a different brand of difficult and incredibly smart young men and women find it very difficult to maintain the same grade point average they had going in. You might make a B or two. Heck you might even make a few Cs. That’s ok. As you will find out soon enough, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. And I haven’t met a nurse yet who was asked for his or her transcripts when applying for a job.

4. Study groups will help you keep your sanity

On the very first day of nursing school our teachers highly recommended that we find people to carpool with and study with. While I didn’t take them up on this suggestion initially I really wish I had. It wasn’t until my second year in nursing school that I found a group of friends to study with and it really was a huge life saver. I would have done so much better the first year if I had just done this in this first place.

5. Every answer is correct. Your job is to know what is “most” correct.

imageOne of the most difficult things for nursing students to grasp is how to answer NCLEX style test questions. What nursing school is really all about is teaching you how to critically think. This means that the answers aren’t always on the surface and you really have to know how to think about the bigger picture to know what answer is correct. In nursing there are many ways you can take care of patients and perform the same task but there are methods that work best. Nursing school is meant to try and teach you this skill. One of the best things you can do for yourself is find yourself an NCLEX strategy guide (I used Saunders Strategies for Test Success: Passing Nursing School and the NCLEX Exam) and study it before you even start nursing school. This will help you retrain your brain to answers the types of questions that will appear on tests in nursing school and the NCLEX and will really give you an edge in school.

6. If it feels like the teachers are trying to weed you out it’s because they are.

Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse. The hoops you jump through to get into and complete nursing school are not put in place simply to amuse your instructors. Nursing schools are ranked based upon their NCLEX pass rates and they only want students to make it through their program if they are sure they will be able to pass the NCLEX and work as a nurse. Think about all the responsibility a nurse has. Do you want just anyone taking care of you or your loved ones?

7. Your definition of busy will change.

Your priorities will shift and you will determine what is really important to you. Because of this you will have a new definition for what it really means to be busy. In the past you might have said you were busy because you didn’t “feel” like going out. Now you’ll actually be busy because you need to study the entire weekend to pass the test that is scheduled on Monday. You’ll regret many events and outings you blew off before because they won’t even be an option any more.

8. If bodily fluids make you queasy nursing isn’t for you.

no time for datThere’s always at least a few students who make it into nursing school with a deadly fear or blood or an utter revolt for urine and feces. While I can tell you it isn’t all about poop, pee, blood and vomit, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that at least some portion of your nursing school experience will involve these lovely liquids. If you can’t cope with the sight of blood you need to some some serious emersion therapy to get over it now. Your clinical rotation is not the time to come to term with these fears.

9. You will have to give bed baths, wipe butts, and take vital signs.

Someone keeps spreading the rumor to nursing students, especially RN and BSN nursing students, that they won’t have to give bed baths, handle a code brown, take vital signs, and other ‘menial’ task. They’ve been told that nurses aides will take care of this and they will mostly be responsible for ‘paperwork.’ Let me be the first to give you a reality check: you’re gonna do all those things AND do paperwork. You don’t graduate from these responsibilities once you become a nurse. You own them. If you are lucky you might have a nurses aide to help you, but you better appreciate him/her for anything they assist you with. And you should never ask them to do something you have plenty of time to do yourself.

10. Your sense of humor will expand.

imageWhile my sense of humor has always been on the dry side, nursing school gave me a new appreciating for quick a wit and the ability to find humor in any situation. Nursing is stressful, emotional, and can be extremely tragic at times. Sometime in your life you will find yourself in the middle of a code situation with several nurses laughing and carrying on a conversation. You will learn that they aren’t doing this to be cruel or disrespectful. Nurses just have to find ways to cope with the tragedy and pain you will experience. Having a good and expanded sense of humor is a great way to do this.

11. Start networking now!

Do you know 10 people who could help you get a job if you were in a pinch? No? Well you need to start working on it. Yes? Well add 10 more.

Finding a job as a new nurse can be very difficult. And while many would have you believe there is a nursing shortage there are many new nurses who go months without securing employment. You need to make sure you have a good network so you can get your foot in the door and get your first nursing job.

12. Your first job probably won’t be your dream job.

I know you’re still in nursing school, but the time will come when you are seeking employment. The ‘exciting’ areas and specialties in nursing are usually very desirable and don’t often take new graduates. You might get lucky and land your dream job, but if you don’t then don’t let it get you down. With just a few few of years of experience under your belt you should be able to transfer into just about any nursing specialty you desire. And if you hate your first nursing job, after a year most will hire you readily.

13. Being a team-player is critical.

If you’re a introvert the time is now to get comfortable working with others. No nurse can operate on an island. You will often need help from your peers. In nursing school you will need help with studying, group projects, and graduating preparation. On the job you will need the help giving baths, answer call lights, and any number of things you may be too busy to tackle that way. Be prepared to give what you expect to get back or else you’re going to have a miserable experience in nursing school and as a nurse.

14. Maintain contact with your non-nursing friends.

The time will come when you are no longer in nursing school and you may or may not maintain contact with your nursing school classmates. If you do, that’s awesome. Even so, you need to be friends with people who aren’t nurses. Not every conversation has to focus on bodily functions or nursing horror stories. It’s nice to have a friend who doesn’t want to talk about nursing because moments with him or her are moments when you can truly escape from being a caregiver.

15. It’s okay to enjoy nursing school.

imageThere are a million and one things that will irritate you and stress you out in nursing school. There are probably also a million and one articles and books about doing well in nursing school. Many of these tend to focus on the ‘work’ related with nursing school. But don’t let the ‘work’ of nursing school ruined the entire experience for you. While nursing school is hard it can also be fun! You gain an education and experience that will mold you into a nurse. You will make memories that you can get nowhere else. As a nursing student you need to make sure you work hard but you also need to play hard. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy this exciting milestone on your nursing journey!

Topics: nursing schools, goals, nurses, students

Frontier Nursing University Receives $1,350,000 in Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Thu, Jan 10, 2013 @ 02:11 PM

By Brittney Edwards

Frontier Nursing University has been awarded a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Scholarship for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program. This four-year grant totals $1,350,000 and will provide scholarships to 90 students over the grant period.

The purpose of the SDS Program is to increase diversity in the health professions and nursing workforce by providing grants to eligible health professions and nursing schools for use in awarding scholarships to financially needy students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of these students are from underrepresented racial and ethnic backgrounds and will help diversify the health workforce. Because 100% of FNU graduates are trained in primary care, the FNU student body is a precise fit with the goals of the SDS program. Not only does Frontier recruit, educate and graduate advanced practice nurses and midwives to work in primary care, but our university targets students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds and minority groups. With over 60% of FNU students fitting the educationally disadvantaged category and 20% qualifying as economically disadvantaged, FNU has a pool of students who can benefit greatly from this assistance.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer these scholarships to our students who might have had their graduate education goals postponed or unfulfilled because of financial constraints,” said Dr. Susan Stone, FNU President and Dean. “Our mission is to educate nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to serve women and families with a focus on rural and underserved areas, so the SDS grant is a perfect fit with our institutional goals.”

FNU will award 90 scholarships, valued at $15,000 each, over the four-year grant period. FNU tuition for the entire program, if attending full-time, ranges from $24,000 to $31,000. This low tuition will allow FNU to award nearly full scholarships for tuition with some funding for fees, books and reasonable living expenses. This funding will make the difference to students experiencing financial difficulties and allow them to complete their graduate education.

About Frontier Nursing University:

FNU provides advanced educational preparation for nurses who seek to become nurse-midwives, family nurse practitioners, or women’s health care nurse practitioners by providing a community-based distance graduate program leading to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a post-master’s certificate. For more information about Frontier Nursing University, visit www.frontier.edu.

Topics: scholarship, Frontier Nursing University, disadvantaged, diversity, nursing, health, students

Click me


DiversityNursing.com is a national “niche” website for Nurses from student nurses up to CNO’s. We are a Career Job Board, Community and Information Resource for all Nurses regardless of age, race, gender, religion, education, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or physical characteristics. 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Posts by Topic

see all