Irish schoolgirl’s multiple sclerosis invention entered in $4m comp

12 May 2016

Lauren Murphy with her father Gerard, showcasing Lauren’s aid for multiple sclerosis sufferers which aims to improve dexterity – all images via DCU

A smart device that helps MS sufferers grip and hold objects has seen its Irish inventor, a transition year student at Loreto in Balbriggan, head to the US.

With $4m up for grabs at Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Arizona, Lauren Murphy’s invention came from observations she made of her father, a sufferer of MS.

Noticing the ‘clenched fist’ problem her father – and many MS sufferers – regularly had, she created a tangible aid to encourage greater hand dexterity.

Lauren Murphy’s multiple sclerosis aid Lauren Murphy’s MS aid

Through using the therapy device, Murphy said she recorded improved dexterity in her father after he performed particular exercises.

On the back of this, Murphy went to a DCU hackathon and met with engineers, as well as the company Nuwave Ventures. The were so impressed, they grouped up to get her project further exposure.

They developed the tool into a smart device that can give immediate feedback as users perform activities – the sensors are measuring force, range of motion and the number of actions in a given time.

multiple sclerosis

The product was ultimately made from a Nuwave 3D printer after DCU’s Dr Conor McArdle helped develop software, and Nuwave’s Rachit Shah helped with the prototyping.

With more than 1,700 high school students from all over the world competing at ISEF, Murphy is in the running for $4m worth of prizes and scholarships.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic