Student engineers improve mobility of teen with nerve disorder

It’s not easy for 14-year-old Cooper Meshew to do the simplest of things, like brush his teeth or open doors. In fact, for the last three years, he’s been unable to write his own name. With progressive muscle loss and limited mobility in all his limbs, Cooper could not begin to sketch out his thoughts for the special gadget he helped design that would eventually improve his physical abilities.

All that has changed, thanks to two University of Akron biomedical engineering students who relied on Cooper’s words and descriptions to create a 3D-printed adaptable arm brace. The youngster has now regained the ability to use a fork to eat or a pencil to write his name.

It all happened after a doctor at Akron Children’s Hospital connected Cooper to our Department of Biomedical Engineering. The doctor had asked Cooper, “If I could wave a magic wand and do one thing for you, what would it be?” Cooper, with a keen interest in engineering, wished for an engineer to come to his Wooster home and help set up his own 3D printer. That’s when seniors Stephen Conklin and Brett Flesher learned about Cooper and the issues he faces from his nerve disorder.

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