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Six-year-old girl enjoys hands-free ice cream thanks to holder made on 3D printer

Enjoying an ice cream on a hot summer day is something most of us take for granted. But for six year old Carmela this simple pleasure was a huge challenge until UWTSD’s Dr Ross Head and the team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) stepped up to help design a prototype ice-cream and lolly holder so that she too can enjoy some summer fun.

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) is a partnership between the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) and the Carmarthen-based children’s charity, Cerebra. It is home to a team of product designers based within UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art. The team designs and builds innovative, bespoke products to help disabled children to discover the world around them. The products are both desirable and exciting as well as being functional, promoting social inclusion and peer acceptance for the children they help.

Carmela has a very rare progressive muscle wasting condition called LMNA Congenital Muscular Dystrophy. It progressively weakens all of the skeletal muscles, including the heart and muscles for breathing. Carmela is fighting to stay mobile and independent for as long as possible but losing more arm strength is affecting her ability to do the lightest things, including holding a lolly or ice-cream.

Six year old Carmela enjoying an ice cream

Carmela’s mum, Lucy said : “To be a kid and being able to enjoy an ice-cream is a big thing and watching your little girl struggle and ask if I can hold it whilst she eats it is heart breaking.”

Lucy got in touch with the Innovation Centre who specialise in coming up with bright ideas to make what seems impossible a reality.

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Product Design Manager Dr Head said: “Lucy asked us for help at the beginning of the lockdown which made this a particularly difficult challenge. To begin with we told her that we would have to wait until we were able to be back in the workshop to bend plastic and form an appropriate shape.

“One day, seeing my children eat an ice cream, I remembered Carmela’s struggle and had a flash of inspiration. I realised that summer was happening, ice cream weather was upon us and Carmela should not have to wait just because of an inconvenient pandemic!

“Using a flexible gooseneck component that is usually for industrial applications and the (Ultimaker S5) 3D printer, I was able to produce an adjustable neck holder for ice creams, with an ice lolly adapter to give Carmela some summertime options! Finished with a comfortable pink fabric lining, the ice cream holder is ready for plenty of action over the summer!”

Lucy said: “Her face in these photos says it all!”

The Team at CIC are so happy to see Carmela eating independently and enjoying the summer. The team is offering help to other families too. Get in touch with CIC here.

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