Freshman recognized for pain relieving invention
Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 01:11
Katherine Bomkamp, a freshman political science major at West Virginia University, is the first student from WVU to be inducted into the National Museum of Education's National Gallery for America's Young Inventors.
Her invention is called "The Pain Free Socket" and will help amputees to eliminate phantom pain, which is the pain caused by the brain sending signals and commands to a missing limb. She incorporated thermal biofeedback into the prosthetics to eliminate the pain.
She said she was inspired to help amputees within the community by seeing how much pain they were in when she would visit the hospital.
"I wanted to do something that made pain one less obstacle they had to face," Bomkamp said. "I wanted to make it easier for them."
At the ceremony for the National Museum of Education's National Gallery for America's Young Inventors, Bomkamp said she was shocked to find out she was the first WVU student inducted.
"They were saying that most of the nominees come from Harvard or Yale," she said. "I thought that it was awesome I was the first. It shows that this opportunity can happen to anyone."
She hopes her accomplishments will inspire other WVU students to achieve their goals.
"I hope I'm setting a positive example," she said. "Anyone can make a difference in their community."
She said it is not abnormal for a freshman to win this award because the Museum requires the student to be younger than 19 in order to participate.
Growing up in a military family, Bomkamp has seen people in situations that encouraged her to follow through with her ideas, said Jeff Bomkamp, Katherine's father.
"She has seen a lot of people and a lot of different
situations," he said. "She has developed a sense in her to help folks out and through this project she is accomplishing it."
Jeff said he watched his daughter do research for two years by talking in chat rooms with amputee patients and asking the University of Maryland Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to get the product finalized.
"She had to put herself in different situations," he said. "This project was just an idea, but she followed through with it."
Though Katherine is a freshman in college, her father thinks that her age does not hold her back.
He said anyone can come up with an idea, it's just about focusing on reaching their goals.
"In the Museum, when you look through what they have done, they have kids that are 12 or 15 years old doing remarkable things," he said,
Katherine said with help from the University, she plans on putting her product on the market.
No business has come forward yet to buy the product, but she said many within the amputee community have asked her about it.
"They know it is in existence, and everyone knows it will help them," she said. "They want to see it on the market as soon as possible."