Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WalkableFUTURE (Lightweight Active Orthosis for kids who are unable to walk due to brain damage)
Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2015-12-31
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a disease, an umbrella term, which affects children. It has 4 different types and different severities are present but the common problem is the spasticity (increased muscle tone) and the consecutive muscle weakness. In one big group the lower limbs are so weak that the child is not able to walk by himself/herself, but the motion functions are not completely absent. Hence less assistance, and less degrees of freedom are enough to achieve a minimum working solution. Exoskeletons are only to be used by adults. Kids’ exoskeletons are designed for scientific/therapy use only and not applicabale for children with spastic and deformed legs. WalkableFUTURE product would be marketed as a motorised orthosis, not as an exoskeleton. It is an ICT system that is designed to replace the nervous system of children who are unable to walk because of the faulty signals provided by their brain. The orthosis frame extensions are designed to be able to follow the growth of the child through 2-3 years, by simple adjustment. Our aim was to confirm if the current solution has the chance to become a business reality. The methodology used through the investigation included market assessment and analysis, technological feasibility analysis and product refinements.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
Several interviews and surveys were completed in 5 European countries in order to identify the market need. In parallel, the technical assessment progressed and different scenarios were applied for the challenges: reviewing the technical architecture of the current system; defining the product refinements; identifying the product supply chain; road to market. It became clear that borrowing the device would be also a good solution when short period of training is needed with supporting medical aids. Also, it can be offered for a wider patient population for posttraumatic leg injuries, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis etc.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
One-two in a thousand new-borns has a severe condition of CP and will not be able to walk at all. This affects 5000 babies each year in the EU and 63000 children. Cure is unknown. Some active walking aids may help the child to walk but they cannot follow the growth of the child, too bulky for children and based on adult walking patterns. Additionally, exoskeletons are universal in shape and only special orthoses can match the individual deformities of the leg in CP. We would disrupt the walking aid market with a new concept: robotized orthoses.