Alayna Gibson, 2020 has always loved designing and building things and knew she wanted to become an engineer. When she first learned about biomedical engineering on a STEM Institute field trip, the idea of helping people through this work inspired her to research the career further, which led to an interest in prosthetics. By the end of her sophomore year, Alayna had learned how to use a 3D printer to create a prosthetic hand that can grip objects.
This summer, Alayna spent a week shadowing the physicians at the Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics Program at the Johns Hopkins Rehabilitation Network in Baltimore and Dankmeyer Prosthetics & Orthotics in Linthicum. She observed patients with limb loss getting fitted for orthotics at Dankmeyer, spent time in pediatric post-operative and adult outpatient clinics, and watched two shoulder replacements and a wrist fracture surgery. Alayna’s favorite parts were working with prosthetics and with children. She enjoyed seeing the different steps in the process of creating and fitting a prosthetic and was surprised at how individualized each person’s prosthetic was. She was also surprised to learn about the flaws that still exist with the current designs and what biomedical engineers need to work on to fix those flaws.
“I had an amazing experience with my internship,” Alayna said. “The reactions people had when they were able to walk for the first time after a long time were priceless. This internship was better than I ever could’ve imagined and I know for sure that I want to be a biomedical engineer who creates prosthetics when I’m older.”