Thanks to the generosity of five Weber State University mechanical engineering technology students, an 8-year-old boy with cerebral palsy will now have access to mobility that his disability would normally never allow.
These students designed a custom tricycle for Torsten Lambert so that he can maneuver on his own, a luxury many with cerebral palsy don’t enjoy. It comes with straps to provide balance and just enough restraint to keep him safe, as well as a lightweight frame that will prevent him from tiring quickly.
“It’s a great addition to getting him around and, hopefully, getting him a little bit of freedom so that he doesn’t have to rely on us so much,” said Josh Lambert, Torsten’s dad.
The ingenuity of the trike’s design means Torsten doesn’t need his parents to help him stand or sit upright. Though he’ll still need to learn how to ride the trike, it’s designed to allow him full control even with his debilitating condition.
“So much of his life, he winds up with adults in charge of where he gets to go and what he gets to do,” Josh Lambert said. “If he learns how the brakes work and steering and everything, he’ll actually have some say in his life. And that would be spectacular.”
The trike is also designed to be adjustable as Torsten grows older, specifically in the handlebars and seat. As he gets stronger, he can even swap out the chain and gear shifters for greater power and speed.
The students who designed the bike spent seven hours per week during the semester on the design, and ended up increasing that time toward the semester’s end.
“Given the importance of this project, who the bike was going to and what it was going to be used for, there was no question, we had to go above and beyond,” said Jordan Barker, engineering student and team project manager. “It was very rewarding and worth every minute of work.”
For their work on Torsten’s trike, the team was awarded a grant through the Alan and Jeanne Hall Endowment for Community Outreach. This grant provided the team with the means to gift the bike to the Lambert family, since custom bikes usually cost thousands and are rarely covered by insurance.
“The cliché ‘let’s change the world’ is often difficult to achieve,” said Dan Magda, mechanical engineering technology professor. “However, with the support of the community, the right tools and the desire to achieve, together we can accomplish anything.”
The idea for the trike came through association between WSU’s engineering department and its Children’s Adaptive Physical Education Society, also known as CAPES! The program is intended to help kids with physical and developmental disabilities and provides skill-building activities during fall and spring semesters.
The Lambert family has expressed their gratitude to the engineering department, and particularly the students who designed the trike, for their generosity.
“We really appreciate everything the students have done,” Josh Lambert said. “The weather is getting nicer outside, school is out and we’re planning on getting out in some empty parking lots. That means more freedom for Torsten.”