Pre-Engineering duo creates foot brace prototype for nursing facility

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GROVEPORT – Jaden Smith proves you’re never too young to make a difference in your future industry. A junior at Groveport Madison High School and a Pre-Engineering student at Eastland Career Center, she job shadowed a bioengineer — her desired field — at the Embassy of Woodview, an assisted living and rehabilitation facility, in November of 2022.

While there, a physical therapist showed her the braces they use on patients, but one, in particular, stood out to her. It was a foot brace designed to help patients with heel conditions, but the staff member told her they rarely use it because of the brace’s poor design.

A lightbulb turned on in Smith’s head, and she asked if she could take the brace with her and develop a new prototype. She recruited fellow junior Rebeca Forsyth, of Pickerington High School North, also a Pre-Engineering student, to help her tackle the project.

They used the engineering design process to assess what was working and what wasn’t. The key problems they identified were that it wasn’t stable enough for a patient’s foot and the brace’s kickstand was unreliable, both of which can be dangerous for older patients with balance issues. The brace also only expanded to a certain size so it didn’t always fit all patients, which created equity and comfort issues.

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