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

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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: health, technology, college, children, patients, students, medical, robotic, limbs, robot, 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

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

7 Surprising Facts From a School Nurse

Posted by Erica Bettencourt

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 01:05 PM

By: American Profile

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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, patients, students, school nurse, kids, list

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

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