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Walking Assistant

Enabling Engineering

The Need

A 17-year-old girl who manages spastic cerebral palsy spends most of her time in a wheelchair. Wheelchair users experience muscle atrophy if they are unable to exercise and bear weight on their limbs. Doctors recommend an hour of exercise daily to prevent muscle degradation. Unfortunately, traditional walkers have painful pressure points, which discourage the girl from walking. She also disliked the attention that traditional walkers draw, which led her to ask for an alternative that attracts minimal attention and affords increased maneuverability. Her ideal walker will feel comfortable, be inconspicuous, and impart a sense of security and control in use.

The Project

To fulfill the goal of giving Diana a walking system that keeps her stable and comfortable while bearing part of her body weight, the team modified a walker that Diana had tested and found more usable than most. The team designed a frame out of aluminum extrusions, which suspends a custom harness that supports Diana, and integrated the frame into the gait trainer. It is fully adjustable. Replacement components, particularly within the front wheels of the walker, were designed, machined, and integrated to ensure greater structural stability alongside the modifications. This new, better fitting harness gives Diana the sensation of walking, the health benefits of bearing her body weight, and less discomfort during use.

Current Status

This project is complete and the prototype is being delivered to the client.