St. Charles robotics team builds interactive boards to help Alzheimer’s patients

St. Charles robotics team builds interactive boards to help Alzheimer’s patients
St. Charles robotics team builds interactive boards to help Alzheimer’s patients
Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 10:34 PM CST
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ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV) - A local robotics team of high schoolers is giving back to a vulnerable community, those who have Alzheimer’s disease.

St. Charles teens spent months building boards that help memory care patients with muscle memory enhancement and stimulation.

“Unless you’ve gone through it, you don’t know,” Steve Garner said.

Garner’s worked with the Alzheimer’s Association for nearly two decades. When his dad was diagnosed with the disease, he and his wife joined a support group to learn how to step up for him.

“We had him for eight years in our home, and it was just a dynamic the whole time. It’s really heartbreaking because the person you used to have isn’t there anymore,” Garner said.

Since Garner’s dad’s passing, he has dedicated his time to helping others that are caring for family members suffering from memory loss. Now, a group of high school students are doing the same.

It has lights, shoe laces, Velcro’s with straps, wheels that spin. It stimulates the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient,” Matt Funk said.

Funk’s one member of the Sheer Force Robotics Team. They’re a St. Charles-based team of high schoolers who have a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). They built two types of ‘busy boards’ for Alzheimer’s patients

“The maze boards are for an earlier onset of Alzheimer’s. It can help the patients with fidgeting and less about the day-to-day tasks they have to do,” Alex Troesser, another Sheer Force team member, said.

For weeks now, the team’s taken a break from their normal robot projects and competitions to build these boards.

“Usually when teams do outreach projects like this, they look at the younger generation and inspiring STEM into them, but the elderly community is a place that is kind of lacking some of that outreach,” junior member, Madison Troesser said.

The Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri told News 4 these boards will be a huge help to caregivers and their family members.

“It’s comforting to them. A stressor of being uncomfortable exacerbates the problems they have and the behaviors that they have. So, if you can keep them calm and keep them kind of busy and doing things like that, it just helps. There’s no reversal to Alzheimer’s disease,” Garner added.

A team of science-driven teens, coming together for an even bigger mission.

“To be helping these people is pretty incredible. I feel, I’d say, almost overjoyed at the fact that I can do something to help another group of people,” Funk said.