Mix plaster, iron and plastic, then shape it like a foot. The end product is a brace that's part science and art. The OSU students making the braces will turn them in for a grade. But they're more nervous about their final exam and how it will change their lives.
In part 1 of our story, News on 6 reporter Omar Villafranca met with the students making the braces and before they fit them onto their patients.
Imelda Pena started out as a sculptor back in college. After graduation, she took a job using her artistic talent to work with leg molds. She fitted a patient with a brace that she made and the experience changed her life. She's now teaching in OSU-Okmulgee's Orthotics and Prosthetics program, getting students involved in helping those who need it most. "I decided to get the students involved so it's not "oh, it's just a class project', so they'll actually put more effort into it because it's going to an actual patient that will benefit from it." Pena helps kids at an orphanage in Mexico.
She made molds of several of their legs a few months ago and brought them back to OSU. Now it's up to her students to make the braces. The whole process of making a brace is very time consuming. You're looking at about 3 hours to cast a mold, and then pouring. Then, to come up with the plastic, you're looking at about 28 hours. You have to heat it in the oven and then fit it to the mold and then cut it. And when you're done with that, you still have more work to do.
Putting the final touches on the braces takes a steady hand, but getting ready for the final fitting has these students nervous and optimistic. OSU student Regenia Lacquement: "Making one child a brace is helping that one child, maybe from helping that one child it may lead to two and then five and who knows? Maybe even world wide peace!"
The final test will take these students from Okmulgee, Oklahoma to Piedras Negras, Mexico. And no amount of studying will prepare them for what they're about to learn and see.
The students packed their bags and headed 10 hours south to Mexico to meet their patients face-to-face.