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news News Friday, March 20, 2020 Friday, March 20, 2020 2:46 PM - Friday, March 20, 2020 2:46 PM

Patient Ambassador creates device to assist others with independent eating

Patient Ambassador creates device to assist others with independent eating

Urianna, affectionately known as “Uri,” has been coming to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia for almost eight years. Uri has been recognized in the past for her beautiful singing voice. She was often heard singing with our music therapist when she was practicing for her future music career. Uri is now 14 and a freshman in high school. Her main interest has shifted to engineering, as she wants to be an engineer when she gets older.

At her recent high school science fair, her project, Do You Need a Hand?: A Robotic Device Designed to Assist Physically Disabled People With Eating, won first place in engineering and second place in overall “best of fair.” The robotic device she created has several features that ensure its portability, versatility and efficiency. With the help of a 3-D printer and programmming app, the multifaceted device can be used with forks or spoons to collect various types of food from bowls or plates and transport them to the mouth, with minimal to no food fallout.

Uri, who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition characterized by multiple joint contractures and muscle weakness, came up with the idea to create Robot Z to help herself and people like her with mobility limitations. Uri was born with her legs contracted inward in a “criss-cross” form, and was completely reliant on her left side to do most things. Despite her accomplishments of standing and finally walking, she still has difficulty eating independently.

“I hope that my device can be impactful for people who can’t eat independently and empower them to find that independence for themselves during mealtime,” said Uri. “When I grow up, I want to become an engineer who creates adaptive equipment for people with mobility limitations and to advocate for those who can’t for themselves.”

Since her first prototype was 56% successful and she earned several achievements during the science fair, Uri will now advance to the International Science Fair in May. The Best Overall award is a $75,000 scholarship. The other best of show awards are scholarships to academic institutions including Drexel University. All the staff members at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia wish Uri the best of luck and look forward to this invention and many others to come in the future.

Urianna's inventionEating device in action