Cal Poly QL+ Students were tasked with the Challenge of creating a push-up/plank device for retired Army Captain, Dawn Halfaker. Captain Halfaker served in Kuwait, South Korea, and Iraq. During her deployment in Iraq in 2004, her convoy was ambushed outside of Baghdad. Her right side was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, resulting in an amputation of her arm and part of her shoulder. Her amputation is known as a shoulder disarticulation. When her arm was amputated, she retained her clavicle and scapula but was left with little to no remaining section of her arm or shoulder.
Captain Halfaker maintains an active lifestyle and works out regularly with a personal trainer. She noticed that her abdominal strength training is hindered by her injury. She approached the QL+ program and requested a mechanical fixture be designed to allow her to perform full push-ups as well as support her as she does planks. The idea of a push-up/plank device for a user with a shoulder disarticulation is a relatively specialized and individual project, so there are few resources about previous designs for a similar device. Research has yielded designs for add-on attachments for prosthetic arms that assist in push-ups, but these designs either use the user’s socket over their residual limb or a separate fixture that requires a residual limb to operate. These designs are for amputees with either transradial or transhumeral amputations.
The team’s final design is a proof of concept. When the students tested the device, they discovered that more iterations are needed, specifically, using carbon fiber for the arms and guide rod because it is both light and strong; limiting the rotational freedom of top plate; and, connecting the lower arm to a base plate with a support structure.
We appreciate the team’s hard work and dedication to this Challenge and helping Captain Halfaker!