Go to content Go to navigation

Pediatric Trainer · 7 April 06 by Jesse Crossen

A few weeks ago, Robert Haag contacted us with a very interesting idea. His two year old son wears a body-powered gripper, and they’re trying to teach him to use it. It’s a pretty complex skill because depending on where the gripper is positioned, different combinations of shrugging motions are required to open and close it. It’s not easy for adults to learn, so imagine teaching a distractible young child to do it. Here’s a video of a training session with Rob’s son Michael:

Video of a training session for a pediatric body-powered prosthesis

In the video, you can see the adults giving him positive feedback when he does the right thing. This is essential to learning; the quantity, quality, and promptness of feedback directly affect the development of a skill. Rob’s idea is to build a small device that would measure the tension in the cable and make friendly sounds to tell Michael that the gripper is opening and closing. Now, instead of just being in short sessions, the feedback would be instantaneous and constant, hopefully helping him learn faster and better.

Rob had already done some work, but was stuck on a few engineering problems, so we engaged Jack Walker, a design engineer who volunteered his skills to the Open Prosthetics Project. They’re working out the details and keeping us informed. You can follow developments on the pediatric trainer project page. If you want to volunteer or offer suggestions, please contact us and we’ll put you in the loop.