UH seniors design product to help paraplegics stand
Standing is not considered a privilege to most, but it is considered a dream for Quantek’s future customers.
Quantek is a group comprises mechanical engineering technology seniors Julian Campuzano, Eli Gonzalez, Nghiep Nguyen and Adrian Garcia. For their senior design project, the four designed a wheel-driven exoskeleton to help individuals with paraplegia or spinal cord injuries stand on their own.
While other teams weaved in the senior design project energy alternatives, the oil and gas industry and transportation, Quantek wanted something that stood out and had a human element to it.
“We just felt like it was our duty as engineers to use our knowledge and build a device for people that need it,” Campuzano said.
The product allows the user to stand with the help of gears and motors on a scooter-like device. The machine could prevent pressure sores, which develop due to lack of circulation and can lead to gangrene within the muscle, through promoting blood flow to the legs and reducing spasticity.
There are similar devices are on the market already, but their prices range anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 as they are designed to mimic walking. To cut down on costs and benefit a wider audience, Quantek created a device that allows its user to stand on their own.
The design has social and health benefits.
“They have the ability to speak to someone face to face at eye level instead of always talking to people while sitting down,” Garcia said.
Quantek’s prototype, Janus, pays homage to the Roman god of beginnings because the group believes that, for many, the device can offer a new lease on life.
While designing the prototype, Quantek visited Adaptive Sports and Recreation Association, a center where people with disabilities go for recreational activity. The team was looking for input from those whom the device would benefit and visiting professional wheelchair events.
It was at one of those events last April, the National Wheelchair Rugby Championships, where the team came across Selvin Velasquez.
“I try to stay as healthy as I can by working out every day,” Velasquez said. “This device would help me because it would get rid of some of the problems that I can get, like pressure sores and it can improve my blood circulation.”
Velasquez and others like him were a great source of inspiration for both the project and Quantek as individuals, Garcia said.
The materials required for the products are expensive, and the team has yet to make the official prototype for Janus due to insufficient funds. Quantek is hosting a GoFundMe campaign and need at least $7,000 to build a prototype.
“If we build this product, we can create something that can change the lives of many people who feel as though they have been neglected by the industry,” Campuzano said.