Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common childhood disability and a cause of lifelong physical impairment. Existing rehabilitation technology is limited to use in the clinic for high-intensity, short-duration physical therapy sessions. We hypothesize that a modular, adaptable, wearable garment can provide high dose rehabilitation that can be easily adapted to the growth and changing needs of children with CP. These features create the disruptive potential for personalized active assistance and rehabilitation across a patient's lifespan.
Our multidisciplinary team proposes to adapt soV wearable robots we have recently developed for adult lower extremity applications for use in pediatric populations. The intention is to create rehabilitation devices that are designed with flexibility, modularity, and adaptability in mind. The device will be configured with different modules that can be selected depending on the specific needs of the user. For example, a hip module that increases hip extension during mid- and late-stance phase could improve step length in children with crouch gait. Similarly, the wearable robot can increase ankle dorsiflexion during swing phase to facilitate ground clearance in children with equinus gait. We plan to build a hardware platform and implement training and testing protocols to characterize motor behaviors/response in children with cerebral palsy.
Team: Conor Walsh, Maurice Smith, Margo Seltzer, and Paolo Bonato