Girl, 4, Gets Prosthetic Arm to Help Her Ride a Bike Without Training Wheels

Playing Students Make Prosthetic Arm for 4-Year-Old so She Can Ride a Bike

A 4-year-old girl received a special gift just in time for Christmas

Maggie Sloboda, who was born without the lower half of her right arm, has always loved to ride bikes, but as she grew, she became unable to switch from training wheels to free riding because she could not reach the handle bars, according to Southern New Hampshire University.

That’s when engineering students at the university stepped into help to make Maggie a 3D-printed arm. 

“She can navigate the bike with her arm and her hand but she has to lean over so there's sort of a balance issue, which will become more of an issue when the training wheels come off,” Maggie’s mom, Tracy Sloboda, said in an interview.

The family enjoys riding their bikes in Massachusetts, where they live, and want Maggie to be able to participate as she grows up. Her mom said it was important for Maggie to understand that it was her bike that had a problem, not her.

So her grandmother, Marilyn Nieuweboer, an employee of Southern New Hampshire University, asked some engineering students for help.

The students worked on the arm as part of a semester-long project and brought Maggie in to try on her new prototype, which they made pink and purple, her favorite colors. The new arm gives her the ability to hold the handlebar without having to lean over.

"This project has been super meaningful for me,” said Pascal Liddane, a mechanical engineering student who worked on the project. “It's definitely interesting and great to work with people in this new community who need help and we can use our engineering knowledge to help them out."

Her family called the 3D arm “the best Christmas gift” they could have received.

“This is really giving her a lifetime of independence, which I love,” Sloboda said.  “She loves to just do all these things on the go. She's just go go go go go ... This is going to give her the ability on this bike and other bikes and then bikes in the future.”

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