‘Next Step Kid’ Carter WOWs at Invention Convention.
“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” ― Elbert Hubbard
We are amazed by our clients every day – it’s one of the biggest motivators to get us to the office each Monday morning. From watching a toddler take their first steps in our office, to witnessing the joy of a teenager ride their skateboard for the first time in years, to seeing a veteran who never thought he’d walk again fly down a mountain on skis, we are privileged to be included in these life-changing moments.
But every once in a while, we’re really wowed by something different. And we just have to share it with the world. This month, we experienced one of those ‘wow’ moments.
Carter has been a ‘Next Step Kid’ (a term coined by some of our youngest clients, who have become friends and supporters of each other) since a few months after his birth. As you can see from our Facebook page, he is a very active kid, and has made incredible progress in his very young life. This month, his school hosted an Invention Convention for students, and Carter decided to tackle the next level of prosthetic limb advancements for his invention.
As Carter uses a prosthesis for both one arm and leg, he is well-versed in the workings of prosthetic limbs, and in their limitations. For example, his prosthetics require the use muscles in the residual limbs to perform simple tasks such as walking or picking up an item. Since he is so active, he fully understands the level of complexity required to focus on working a mechanical arm while playing sports. He is also incredibly curious, and unafraid to ask questions of the prosthetics and physicians he sees regularly, to learn how and why prosthetics work as they do, and how he can perform better with them.
All of this led Carter to invent a ‘Talk and Grab’ arm for the Invention Convention. The idea was to create a prosthetic arm that would be voice-controlled, and allow people with very limited mobility the full use of their arms. Carter understood that it takes a mobile person to use a prosthesis, and he wanted to help those who are not as mobile achieve the same level of activity that he enjoys.
To ensure that his idea had merit, Carter then setup a meeting with his Next Step prosthetist Scott Cummings to discuss the feasibility of his design and narrow down the scope. As an 8 year old, his ideas became very grand so his parents and Scott wanted to help him focus on one idea and one action of the prosthesis. Scott helped Carter realize that voice activation wasn’t enough, and that the arm would need to be able to see the object it was reaching for.
With minimal help Carter created the prosthetic arm with voice activation and optical sensor. His idea was that the sensor would shine a light on an object and the prosthesis would know where to grab the object targeting by the light. He took it further and said that for an upgrade he wanted to add telescoping capability so that the claw hand could reach out further for objects out of his reach.
His family (and the entire Next Step team) are very proud of Carter for thinking of others facing disabilities. He shows us every day that there isn’t anything he can’t do!