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153 Collins Road Northeast
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402

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1940 Blairs Ferry Road
Suite 104
Hiawatha, Iowa 52233

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1795 Hwy 64 East
Anamosa, Iowa 52205

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1001 N. Center Point Road
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Hiawatha, Iowa 52233

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2992 7th Ave.
Marion, Iowa 52302

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2375 Edgewood Rd SW
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404

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Hospital Team Members Help Teen Regain Normalcy

by -

Anna Noll

Anna Noll wanted to add a sense of normalcy back into her life. She wanted to do as much for herself as she could like brushing her hair and putting on make-up.

Anna sustained life-altering injuries in an April 13 car accident. She was on her way to a post prom party in Keosauqua, Iowa when she lost control and was ejected 30 feet. She was air-lifted to the hospital.

“I fractured my spine in several places had a spinal fusion from my C-2 to T-2 vertebrae,” shares, Anna.

Anna has been at UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Hospital Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation recovering from her injuries.

“I mentioned to my occupational therapist that I would really like to be able to put on mascara and other make-up,” says Anna. “Make-up was always something I did before my accident. It was a big deal for me to be able to do some things for myself and would allow me to feel a sense of normal.”

Enter Rose Hedges, St. Luke’s Nursing Research and local MakerNurse Champion.

“I learned about the MakerNurse program about 18 months ago when I was working on my doctoral project,” shares Hedges. “The program taps into the ingenuity of nurses. For decades nurses have used everyday materials to improve upon and create new tools and devices, which allow us to provide better care for patients. It’s an international program that supports this work.”

Hedges met with Anna and her mom, Megan and the rest of Anna’s family. They discussed Anna’s request and did a video chat with a MakerNurse engineer. They utilized a similar device that was recently created for another patient and adapted it for Anna’s needs.

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(Photo caption: Band, which wraps around Anna's hand and holds the make-up)

“We had a prototype from the other patient,” shares Hedges. “It was a specially designed band, which fit around Anna’s hand with Velcro. The hard-plastic part that wrapped around her hand was created with a 3-D printer at the MakerNurse headquarters in Massachusetts and shipped to Cedar Rapids and from there we were able to develop several attachments for Anna’s needs.”

“They work well,” explains Anna. “I have a mascara wand, and two devices, which allow me to put on eye shadow and foundation or blush. It’s exciting to me because it creates more normalcy for me as I go through all of this. Right now, I don’t have a lot of strength and stability with the arm I will use but as I get stronger these assistive devices will be a lot easier for me to use.”

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(Photo caption: Eye shadow (left) and blush/foundation (center) brushes alsong with the mascara wand - all fit on the hand band to allow Anna to appy make-up herself)

“The more she can do for herself is going to be great,” says Megan, Anna’s mom. “All of these things used to be a part of her day. She’s spent a ton of money on her make-up – it’s something she loves to do. This means a lot to her.”

“Making a mascara wand out of some simple materials is awesome,” says Hedges. “This is what is so great about this program and St. Luke’s involvement in it. It’s about caring for our patients and finding ways to support them and improve their quality of life. It’s what makes my job as a nurse so fulfilling and working at St. Luke’s so amazing.”

Hedges’ next challenge is helping Anna find a way to put in and take out her contacts.

“I said to Anna, “challenge accepted” so that is what I am working on right now. We can get the contacts in – it’s just getting them out is what we are working on.”

“I am just really excited to be able to do some of these things again,” says Anna.

Services for spinal cord injury patients are individualized and provided in a variety of settings, at St. Luke's depending on the severity of the injury and stage of recovery. We invite you to call us to learn more about our program, at (319) 369-7261.