Engineering students at Brigham Young University have created a new kind of bike pedal that allows one 9-year-old with a disability to ride using both of his legs for the very first time.
Andrew Mills, the active 9-year-old, was the inspiration for this capstone project. He was born with a condition in which his right leg grows faster than his left. There’s about a 4 inch difference which makes riding a bike difficult.
Andrew typically pedals with his left foot while his right foot hangs off to the side. But not anymore. This new crank-like pedal adjusts for the length of his right leg allowing him to pedal with both.
Andrew’s right leg does a smaller rotation requiring less leg movement while his left leg pedals normally.
Rachel Mills, Andrew's mother, says he was all smiles after using the finished product for the first time. When asked what he liked about it Andrew said, "My [right] knee is actually really tired." It was something he had never experienced before and it felt good.
The team of five students that developed the pedal initially attempted to design an entirely new bike for Andrew, but then they realized this was a single part issue.
Because this new part is removable and adjustable the plan is to open source the design so a lot of people can benefit, including kids like Andrew but also aging adults with arthritis or knee replacement that limit leg movement.
The student team leader, Trent Porter, says that as a finishing touch they’re releasing a website that guides a user through a do-it-yourself process.
"They can just put in their measurements then it will output what parts they need to order," Porter says.
Porter hopes this design can reach as many people as possible and restore some of the mobility they’ve learned to live without.