Invention lets children with cerebral palsy walk for the first time
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/25/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Debby Elnatan, the mother of a child with cerebral palsy, has invented a device that gave her wheelchair-bound son the chance to walk. A Northern Ireland company has turned Elnatan's idea for a walking harness that could transform the lives of countless disabled children - and has since been launched onto the worldwide market.
"It has been humbling to see the progress and happiness the Upsee is creating; watching children to do simple things for the first time such as kicking a ball or playing with a sibling is wonderful for everyone involved, but especially the families," a representative for the company says.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A music therapist, she came up with the concept to help her young son Rotem. Elnatan designed a support harness that would enable Rotem to stand upright. Attaching it to herself, the harness allows parent and child take steps together.
Searching for a company to mass-produce her device called the "Upsee," the Israeli mother chose Northern Ireland-based manufacturer Leckey, which has a long track record in making equipment for children with special needs.
From left, Claire and Daniel Smyth, Louise and Bethany Watson and Cameron and Charlotte Taylor take the Firefly Upsee for a test run.
After successful trial runs with families in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, the Firefly Upsee was launched.
"It is wonderful to see this product available to families across the world," Elnatan says, who was at the official unveiling at the Leckey factory in Lisburn.
From left Daniel Smyth, five, Bethany Watson, and Charlotte Taylor, both three, gave the invention their seal of approval.
"When my son was two years old, I was told by medical professionals that 'he didn't know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them.'
"That was an incredibly difficult thing for a mother to hear. I started to walk him day after day, which was a very strenuous task for both of us. Out of my pain and desperation came the idea for the Upsee and I'm delighted to see it come to fruition."
The Upsee allows infants and small children to stand and achieve repetitive walking training with the support of an adult. The device includes a harness for the child, which attaches to a belt worn by an adult, and specially-engineered sandals that allow the parent and child to step simultaneously, leaving their hands free for play and other tasks.
The harness attaches around an adult's waist to hold the child upright.
Designers, engineers, textile experts and therapists from Leckey's Firefly team have been working on the project since 2012.
Maura McCrystal, mother of five-year-old Jack, from Draperstown in Northern Ireland, has been one of the first U.K. parents to use the product.
"Last Sunday was a significant one for us as a family as it was the first time our son Jack was able to play football in the back garden with his dad, his brothers and our little dog Milly," she said.
"To see Jack playing like any other five-year-old boy made me very emotional. Jack and his brothers so enjoyed it."
The child can then walk in step with their parent, as demonstrated by Charlotte and Cameron.
The product could help families across the world, Firefly's clinical research manager and occupational therapist, Clare Canale says.
"Short-term, the Upsee improves special needs family participation and quality of life, while research suggests it has the potential to help with physical and emotional development in the longer term.
"It has been humbling to see the progress and happiness the Upsee is creating; watching children to do simple things for the first time such as kicking a ball or playing with a sibling is wonderful for everyone involved, but especially the families."
Copyright 2018 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
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