At 5 years old, Dakota Tomac wants to do things himself. He doesn’t want his cerebral palsy to require others to carry his book or figure out how he will get his lunch on the table.


His independent spirit got a boost with a tool created by Grand Valley State University students, thanks to an idea from a physical therapist at the Kent Intermediate School District.


The students made a tray that fits onto Dakota’s walker so he could move around at school and carry his iPad, which helps him communicate.


“It’s so nice he doesn’t have to depend on someone else to bring his words with him,” said Dakota’s mother, Angel Tomac. “Without the tray, his aids would follow him with the pad. And then maybe there would be no place to set it. He feels more independent now.”


Physical therapist Michelle Gallery asked GVSU’s engineering department about designing the tray, to hold not only an iPad, but his lunch or anything else he might want to take from here to there while his hands are pushing the walker.


John Farris, associate professor of engineering, turned the request into a learning project for students. For Adam DeVries, creating prototypes and ending up with a finished product was a senior project this past year, before he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree.“The goal was a universal design to fit any walker and to do it at a low cost because medical devices can be pretty expensive,” DeVries said.


Read Full Article by Ron Cammel at The Grand Rapids Press here