By Matt Wotus
Miley Brochu is 3 years old and a survivor of Shaken Baby Syndrome. She in unable to walk on her own due to head injuries she suffered as a child. But thanks to a high school student, she has newfound, independent mobility.
Willem Hillier, a senior at Champlain Valley Union High in Hinesburg, Vermont, turned a science project into a motorized scooter for the little girl. Hillier, who was the lead engineer on the project, and his team were tasked using Power Wheels toys to make the scooter.
Hillier spent three months making the scooter, using a 3D printer to create the parts for the scooter, replacing electronics and converting the joystick by rewriting computer code to turn the a vehicle that required two-handed to operate into one that Miley can operate with one hand.
“Working on this project, it’s for this girl here,” Hillier told the Burlington Free Press. “She can’t really walk, and so this is going to be her first opportunity to be able to move herself.”
Hillier and his team received assistance on the project from therapists at the University of Vermont’s Center for Disability and Inclusion I-Team, and they suggested Miley as a possible recipient of the scooter after connecting with her.
“For kids who are unable to otherwise walk — if you give them the power to independently move, their other motor skills increase; their social skills increase; their verbal and language skills increase,” Tamra Yandow, the I-Team physical therapist, said.
Miley can use the scooter to practice getting around until her new powered wheelchair arrives. That date may be six months from now or longer, but the scooter will last until it comes, according to I-team occupational therapist Deborah Sharpe.