Kids With Cerebral Palsy Get to Walk Thanks to Robotic Suits
The rapid development of technology scares some people, but it has proven again and again that it has the power to transform lives. Robotics is transforming the lives of children suffering from cerebral palsy as it’s giving them the ability to walk and play like they’ve always wanted to with a truly remarkable innovation.
The Robotic Suits Of The Future
Most children spend significant parts of their childhood running, jumping, swimming, and being generally exuberant. Sadly, children suffering from the neurological condition known as cerebral palsy have impaired muscle coordination and, depending on the degree of their impairment, are almost completely unable to partake in such activities.
The National Institute of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD has dedicated a team of researchers to develop a robotic exoskeleton that enables children with cerebral palsy to feel what it’s like to walk with ease.
A Superhero Suit Of Armor
The exoskeleton that the children wear looks like something out of a Marvel movie and scientists say that it can significantly help CP sufferers with their movement abilities.
“Our exoskeleton provides assistance to improve upright posture when worn while still requiring the person to control their own muscles and stability,” said Diane Damiano, a co-author of the study. “Wearable devices could provide a novel mechanism to… maintain their motor functioning as part of their everyday lives.” With CP being the most common motor disability in children in the United States, these exoskeletons would serve a significant audience.
The Children Love It
Being able to walk easier for the first time in their lives, the children were noticeably thrilled with the exoskeleton. “Most of the children were pretty excited to feel the way that this device changed how they walked,” said Thomas Bulea, scientist and lead author of the study. “More striking was the reaction we saw on a lot of the parents’ faces. Most of them expressed surprise at the visible effects of the exoskeleton during walking.”
The scientists shared that the biggest challenge to expanding their exoskeleton was the fact that this was a relatively small study, so they need to establish a larger study group to evaluate. The group is very happy with the promising results seen so far and while the exoskeleton likely won’t be commercially available for some time, they look forward to one day seeing all children with CP have the ability to walk with ease.
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