CU-Boulder Engineering Students Aid Afghan Boy Injured In Bombing

Published: April 24, 2000

A 13-year-old boy who lost his arm during the Soviet bombing of Afghanistan more than a decade ago will soon regain a degree of function thanks to a team of CU-Boulder engineering students who have built him a prosthetic arm.

The boy was injured by shrapnel from a bomb that fell near his backyard when he was just 2 years old. He lost his entire right arm and part of his shoulder in the incident.

CU-Boulder students learned of the boy’s plight from the Rocky Mountain Survivor’s Center in Denver, which is providing psychotherapeutic and support services to his family. The family, which had been persecuted by the Taliban in Afghanistan due to ethnic and religious differences, came to Denver recently to be with relatives after spending 11 years in refugee camps in Pakistan.

The family’s resources are very limited, according to Amber Gray, clinical director at the center, a non-profit organization serving more than 300 clients who have survived human rights abuses around the world. The center is located at 1547 Gaylord St. in Denver.

"He is very excited and happy. This is a dream come true," Gray said about the new prosthetic arm.

CU-Boulder engineering students, under the direction of faculty member Beverly Louie, constructed the shoulder joint and arm out of wood and fiberglass. The prosthetic limb has a natural appearance and provides moderate function, bending at the joints, but it does not provide internal control of movement.

First-year engineering students Eric Feierstein, Art Barnes, Andy Lewien, Chris Plesko and Raul Christiansen have worked on the project all semester and will deliver it to the boy next week.

The prosthetic arm also will be one of about 60 student projects on display at the ITLL Spring 2000 Design Expo at CU-Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., on Saturday, April 29.