U of I engineering students build CPR machine for quadriplegic medical student

Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 09:53:17-05

MOSCOW — “I have a c5-c6 spinal cord injury, so basically I am unable to walk or move my legs or feel my legs, most of my trunk and I cannot move my fingers at all,” Meagan Boll, WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) medical student said.

She is part of the WWAMI medical school at the University of Idaho, and as part of their requirement for clerkships and residencies, students have to be CPR certified.

“Especially in the first year, we go into hospitals and clinics and learn and interact with patients,” Boll said.

However, due to her spinal cord injury, Boll can't do a full chest compression.

“I was having trouble maneuvering around the dummy to be able to get a full force compression,” she said.

“Nearly one in 50 people are living with paralysis, and for the most part, they are unable to go into healthcare professions because of limitations related to performing CPR, which is always core requirement of the profession," Jeff Seegmiller, WWAMI Medical Director said.

So, Boll reached out to other quadriplegic doctors to see how they do CPR, and to her surprise, nobody could help her.

“They said we were never required to do it, and so there was no help there,” Boll said.

She started to lose hope until the Seegmiller sought help from the U of I engineering departments, and within months they had a solution.

"I slide into the machine, and it has two handles, and so right about where my feet are, I just park over Harry and give compressions," Boll said. "And it works. I have been able to get full compressions.”

A moment she will never forget.

“We were all crowded around looking at it, and all of a sudden you here oh there’s one you got it and then oh my god there is another one, and we were just super excited,” Boll said.

Meagan hopes that she can help other quadriplegics wanting to go into the medical field.

“I hope I get a phone call from somebody saying 'I didn’t think this was possible, but now I kind of do, and I am in a similar boat as you are. Can you walk me through how you did it?" Boll said. "And I could actually have some good answers.”

She also wants everyone to know, "there's always a way," Boll said.