/news/2011/may/images/240_Kieron Norton

Students engineer brighter future for cerebral palsy sufferer

Aerospace engineering students from the University of Sheffield have created a device to help an 11-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer achieve his dream to cook.

As part of a competition entitled Making Kieron’s life easier, over 140 engineering students used their skills to design 13 commercially feasible products that could aid Kieron Norton and other sufferers of cerebral palsy to operate more easily in their day-to-day life.

The team of ten, who called themselves Cooking for All Ltd, won the competition for their product Easy Mix, which can help mix or cut food for baking or cooking.

It consists of a mixing bowl with a sealed lid through which a spoon, knife or other cooking implement fits through, something that would allow Kieron to embrace his passion for cooking by enabling him to mix or cut food independently and without making a mess.  The bowl can then be popped straight into the oven for baking. It is hoped this design will now be turned into a reality.

Easy Mix had some strong competition, including the design of an arched keyboard device, which took second place. The keyboard, which featured large buttons, could be linked up with computer software to enable Kieron and sufferers of various other disabilities to play games and learn. The arch shape of the keyboard was designed specifically to accommodate Kieron’s restricted arm movement.

In third place was an interactive board game, which could help people suffering from severe communication or neurological disorders actively play board games and interact with other people by helping them select which pieces they want to move.

Other ideas suggested by the students included a retractable hood to protect wheelchair users against rain; a TV remote control designed for touch screens, helping people who do not have the dexterity to push buttons and a hand brace, which would help Kieron write, paint or brush his teeth.

“The students have been in contact with us and Kieron to see what kind of things would benefit him and their designs show that they really listened to us. The standard has been really high and it was tough picking a winner. I really think every single one of the students’ ideas could be turned into a reality to help people with all sorts of disabilities, whether that’s cerebral palsy or severe arthritis.  We’re really grateful to the students for all they’ve done,” says Keiron’s dad, Andrew.

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