A young inventor and West Virginia University political science sophomore can now add “Amazing Young Woman” to her list of accolades.
Katherine Bomkamp, 19, of Waldorf, Md., has been named one of Glamour magazine’s 21 Amazing Young Women for developing a prosthetic device that aims to alleviate phantom pain in the world’s millions of amputees. The distinction is given to young women across the country who are changing the world through service and innovation.
Glamour will recognize Bomkamp at the magazine’s 21st annual Women of the Year Awards on Monday (Nov. 7) at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
“We were inspired by your work in creating an innovative prosthetic device, and would like to celebrate you at our star-studded ceremony,” Glamour said in a letter to Bomkamp.
The magazine will pay for Bomkamp’s travel and hotel expenses for the ceremony.
Bomkamp said she received an email from Glamour seeking information on her product in May. A few months later, she learned that the magazine was considering her for the honor.
“It means a lot,” she said. “But I didn’t do this project for recognition. I’ve dedicated about four years of my life to this project and the people I hope it will help.”
At age 16, Bomkamp noticed the horrors of war resonating with returning soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. She and her father, a U.S. Air Force veteran, frequently visited the Bethesda, Md.-based facility.
Click below to hear Inside WVU story on Katherine Bomkamp.
Bomkamp didn’t just sit on the sidelines and feel sorrow for the afflicted men and women she encountered. She listened to their stories and learned that many amputees experienced phantom pain, the feeling of pain in an absent limb.
By researching the topic, Katherine found that no medications have been approved for specifically treating phantom pain. Most amputees are prescribed antipsychotics and barbiturates, medicines that can be expensive and highly-addictive.
For a 10th-grade science project, Katherine decided to do something about this. She created “The Pain Free Socket.” It incorporates thermal-bio feedback into prosthetics to eliminate phantom pain in amputees.
Phantom pain is caused by the brain continuing to send signals and commands to the limb. Bomkamp’s device would help force the brain to focus on the heat produced through thermal-bio feedback, rather than sending signals to the nonexistent limb.
She’s been recognized internationally for her efforts.
She was the first WVU student to be inducted into the National Museum of Education’s National Gallery for America’s Young Inventors.
With the help of WVU’s Entrepreneurship Center, Bomkamp is working to commercialize “The Pain Free Socket” and make it available to those who need it.
“I’m really appreciative of everything WVU has done to support me and my project,” Bomkamp said. “I know I wouldn’t be getting this recognition without their support.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree, Bomkamp hopes to go to law school. Her dream job is to work for Google or Apple.
In addition to the “21 Amazing Young Women,” Glamour will celebrate at Monday’s ceremony its 10 women of the year, which include Jennifer Lopez, Arianna Huffington and Gabrielle Giffords.
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