Robotic Exoskeleton Helps Kids with Cerebral Palsy
To help improve the way children with Celebral palsy walk NH researches have been developing a robotic device. During the walking cycle, the wearable device provides knee extension assistance. Bulea and his team tested whether the robotic exoskeleton could lessen crouch gait when worn by children with cerebral palsy.
The device was tested by Seven children, ages 5 to 19 years old. Each was able to walk at least 30 feet without a walking aid. Six of the seven children after putting the device were better able to bend their knees. While walking with the device the children used their own muscles and were not letting exoskeleton do all the work to straighten their legs.
“The improvements in their walking, along with their preserved muscle activity, make us optimistic that our approach could train a new walking pattern in these children if deployed over an extended time,” Bulea says.
The kids were very excited and a couple of them felt similar to super heroes when they put on the braces.
The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
The next step is a larger trial where children will use exoskeletons at home for a year or more. Larger studies are needed to evaluate this robotic approach for treating crouch gait.
Bulea estimates it will be several years before his research is finished and the exoskeleton is ready for mass production.