AtaxiaV:  Quantitative Assessment and Treatment System for Ataxia on the cloud wins Rep. Ted Lieu’s 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 33rd District

Rep. Ted Lieu has named Hemosoo Woo of Palisades Charter High School and Mincheol Song of North Hollywood High School as the winners of the 2022 Congressional App Challenge in California’s 33rd District.

When asked what inspired the creation of AtaxiaV:  Quantitative Assessment and Treatment System for Ataxia on the cloud, the students said, ”We are Presidents and Software Developers of the Voice of Calling NPO, an organization that consists of young computer scientists from all over the world. Our inspiration comes from our motto “We Listen, We Go, We Work.”, as we listen for a calling, go towards the calling, and work to progress humanity for the better.

Our inspiration came when we were first introduced to Ataxia, a rare neurological disease affecting the lives of 1 in every 50,000 people in the US.
Ataxia is a progressive disease, affecting a person’s ability to walk, talk, and use fine motor skills. The age of symptom-onset varies with patients, as the disease isn’t limited to a specific age group. Complications from the disease are severe, leading to potential deaths. Nevertheless, an accurate diagnostic method and effective drug for Ataxia patients have yet to be developed.

At first, AtaxiaV was started at the request of Dr. Lee, a rehabilitation medicine professor, in hopes to obtain quantitative and accurate patient experimental data using a computer in a standardized examination environment. This led to the development of Ataxia version 1 to test patients with Ataxia on the computer touch screen.

While familiarizing with patients through Facebook’s Ataxia group and the International Ataxia conference, we discovered that there were a lot more children with Ataxia than we anticipated. This prompted a challenge as diagnosis and rehabilitation was hardly performed on children compared to adults.

Putting an emphasis on child patients, we started to investigate on our own whether our computer technology could help these patients in these difficult situations. However, Dr. Lee had different intentions than us, and as soon as he obtained his desired data through AtaxiaV1, the project was discontinued, making it difficult to resume this project.

In the meantime, our organization continued on our own path as we held a free coding and robotics camp for Foster Family Children in the area, Many of which were diagnosed with autism, learning disabilities, and other behavioral disorders. While working with the foster children, the Ataxia patients kept coming to mind. That’s when we made up our decision. We were determined to further develop AtaxiaV.

AtaxiaV is currently being developed even without the help of medical expert mentors. Through this App Challenge, we hope this extended and difficult ordeal will be known in many places and help patients with Ataxia to be diagnosed and treated more accurately.”

The Congressional App Challenge smashed previous participation records in 2022. All told, 9,011 students registered for this year’s competition – creating 2,707 fully-functioning apps for 335 Members of Congress across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia. This year’s competition set the record for most student registrations, most apps submitted, most apps per district submitted, and most districts receiving over 20 apps. The wildly successful competition continues to impress upon House Members the importance of computer science education and the need to develop a pipeline of diverse, domestic STEM talent.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2023 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2023, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.