Duke University Students Devise Devices For The Disabled

DURHAM, N.C. -- Ten-year-old Daniel Delimata, of Raleigh, can get much more out of a street hockey game now that Duke University engineering students have rigged him up a custom-made goalie "slider."

Daniel's cerebral palsy has severely limited use of his legs, though that hasn't kept him from riding horses, winning an orange belt in karate and playing in wheelchair basketball tournaments.

But his condition did force him to sit on the pavement when acting as goalie in neighborhood street hockey games. That is, until students in a Duke "Devices for the Disabled" course came to the rescue.

The new course, taught by assistant biomedical engineering research professor Laurence Bohs, challenges biomedical engineering seniors and graduate students to apply their knowledge and innovation to a "real world" project addressing unmet needs of the handicapped.

In this case, it put students Brian Feldman, Donna Geddes and Larry Maciolek on a 20-hour-a-week regimen of brainstorming, parts scrounging, building and testing that culminated in a rousing hockey game just before Christmas in the parking lot of Daniel's apartment complex.

A video that day captured a smiling Daniel sitting upright in a special sliding seat that he could push from side to side with his hands and arms. As he pushed, he deftly maneuvered a special goalie's stick the Duke students also cobbled out of a fishing net they bought at a WalMart. The stick was smaller than the adult model he used before, and it also had an easier-to-grasp round handle.

Daniel was delighted -- and remains so -- reported his mom, Janeen. "The slider changed things for him by allowing him to stop the ball better, move faster, get the ball more quickly out of the net, cover more area, and 'look more like a real goalie,'" Mrs. Delimata said in an e-mail interview.

"And the slider will aid him therapeutically, because it will help with coordination and balance, build up his leg muscles, and

Contact: Monte Basgall
Duke University

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