Diana, a 17-year-old girl with 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; however, traditional walkers have painful pressure points, which discourage Diana from walking. Diana also disliked the attention that traditional walkers call to themselves, so she asked for an alternative that attracts as little attention as possible and offers increased maneuverability. She wanted a sense of security and control while using her walker.
The goal was to design a walking system that keeps Diana stable and secure while bearing part of her body weight and walking. The prototype is based on a modified gait trainer that Diana had tried out in the past. To provide maximum comfort and functionality, the team substituted the gait trainer’s default support mechanisms with a custom vest and harness. The design is mobile, can be used outdoors, and is less expensive than existing devices.
The prototype is in development, and the team is receiving feedback from Diana and her father, Carry.