This proposal suggests a solution that improves the physiological gait development of children without being at a rehabilitation centre (i.e. at school and home).
Children affected by neurological conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Spina Bifida and head trauma often develop significant disabilities, including impaired motor control. In many cases, walking becomes difficult and eventually demands the use of crutches or wheelchairs. As a result, these children do not acquire locomotion skills, and consequently lose their independence.
It is well understood that walking, a fundamental human characteristic, ensures the best locomotion training. In children with neurological and neuromuscular diseases, independent walking is a significant rehabilitation method that must be pursued in a specific temporal window due to the plasticity of the central nervous system. This means children with neurological conditions have a small window of time to acquire locomotion skills through assisted walking rehearsals. Our goal is to develop a set of technologies that lead to an exoskeleton that quickly promotes walking skills among children.
One word summarizes what we do: passion. Our mission is to develop low cost consumer bionic products to improve the quality of life for people around the world. The team has continually innovated low cost exoskeleton systems, which eventually allowed a paraplegic student to walk the podium for his graduation.
Our research will lead to innovative computer-controlled rehabilitative exoskeletons to promote locomotion among children. Our team (University of California at Berkeley and SuitX) envision that a paediatric exoskeleton resulting from this research work should have the following novel characteristics:
- Modularity in hardware
- Control Software that promotes the recovery of the wearer’s gait
- Self-stabilizing technology to ensure safety