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Healthy Balance

A Life-Changing Bike for a Child with Dwarfism

In many ways, Charlie Davison’s life is very different from most 6-year-olds. He was born with a rare form of dwarfism, thanatophoric dwarfism. He needs a ventilator and medical equipment, speaks through an iPad and uses a power wheelchair to get around.

Charlie loves to play basketball and spend time with his siblings, but kids outside of the family seemed fearful of his large wheelchair and medical equipment. So when Charlie’s pediatrician, James Plews-Ogan, MD, asked about his challenges, Charlie’s mom said she wanted him to be more socially active.

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Designing Charlie’s Bike: Addressing Dwarfism Challenges with Better Mobility

Plews-Ogan suggested that Charlie’s mom, Erin, reach out to UVA biomedical engineering (BME) students. BME applies engineering principles to medicine, healthcare and biology. The students wanted to build something for Charlie that could help him get around but would look and feel more fun than his bulky wheelchair.

The solution was a Hot Wheels-esque trike they dubbed “Cruiser X.” The students were nervous about whether it would actually work.

Watch what happened when Charlie tried it out.

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