The engineers at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have developed a mobility-minded exoskeleton specifically for children. Even though its main purpose is to help disabled kids move around, some experts believe that the device has the ability to act as a life-saving device.
The aluminum and titanium-based exoskeleton, comprised of a series of long supports (called orthotics) that adjust and adapt to the legs and torso of the wearer, is designed for children between the ages of 3 and 14 living with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Engineers day that not only can it help its wearers walk, but it could also be used for muscle training therapy to combat the side effects of SMA (mainly progressive muscle wasting, scoliosis, osteoporosis, and lung dysfunction). The operation of the machinery’s engines allows the exoskeleton the ability to mimic human muscle movement and provide the necessary strength a child needs to stand and walk on their own. Plus, the built-in sensors allows the skeleton to detect and encourage leg movement, and on a single charge, the device could be operable for up to five straight hours of use.
CSIC researcher Elena Garcia, currently going to use crowdfunding platforms to raise the necessary capital to bring the gift of mobility to children around the world, says:
“The main difficulty in developing this type of pediatric exoskeleton is that the symptoms of neuromuscular diseases, such as spinal muscular atrophy, vary over time. So an exoskeleton able to adapt to these changes autonomously [is] necessary. Our model includes intelligent joints that modify the stiffness automatically and adapt to the symptoms of each child at all times.”