Members of Lower Merion High School’s DAWGMA robotics team design, program and build robotics to compete in elaborate games, the goal of which is to inspire creativity in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). But where might that interest in technology lead?
One place is the field of rehabilitation technology. To that end, members of the team visited MossRehab this week to see how some of that technology works, learning from some of the best in the business—and also to gain insights into “disability etiquette.” The latter is particularly useful, as the team works at Judith Creed Homes for Adult Independence, Inc. (JCHAI), a community group consisting of adult persons with disabilities.
Bob Bellini, PE, is DAWGMA’s chief mentor and a computer systems architect at Lockheed Martin. Bellini accompanied the group on the MossRehab tour.
“I was amazed at how the technology of rehabilitation has advanced,” Bellini says. “Seeing the ability for patients to regain skills and capabilities that they have lost due to injury or disease really impressed me. Learning how the STEM principles play so well in rehabilitation taught me another aspect of technology far beyond the robots used in manufacturing.”
Bellini says the group also enjoyed and learned most from their discussion with Alberto Esquenazi, MD, MossRehab’s chief medical officer, learning how he became an inovator, ultimately coming to help design and produce an exoskeleton that can assist persons with disabilities regain the capability of walking independently.
Additionally, Bellini notes, because DAWGMA works with JCHAI to help its members build and program robotics, the presentation by Julie Hensler-Cullen RN on disability etiquette “helped me better understand how to work with them.”
The presentation was equally rewarding for staff members at MossRehab.
The group’s questions, Dr Esquenazi says, “were very focused on the technology and the human/machine interaction—but more important, they wanted to know about the users’ emotional response to the technology, showing how much they care for them. It was great having them here and we hope we at MossRehab have impacted their future, even if it is in a small way.”
(Photos by Wes Hilton)