GradImpact: Improving Mobility for Children with Cerebral Palsy

    As the most common physical disability in childhood, one in 323 babies is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) annually in the U.S. and most require medical devices to improve mobility. CP is a life-long disability due to damage of the developing brain, and there is no known cure. Ahad Behboodi, a doctoral candidate in biomechanics and movement science at the University of Delaware, is leading a team of researchers to improve mobility in children with CP.

     

    Behboodi and his team recently received a QED grant from the University City Science Center in Philadelphia, “to develop a motorized ankle foot device for children with Cerebral Palsy that includes a novel artificial muscle.” The device will help correct and improve ankle motion, potentially leading to better mobility. Comprised of common elastic materials, the artificial muscle device is lightweight and compact and simulates the motion of skeletal muscle.

     

    “For now, the device can only assist the wearer’s own muscle contractions, but we are able to customize where we put the force to change the movement,” said Behboodi. “In the future, we may add functional electrical stimulation technology, which is a major area of research in Dr. Lee’s lab, to also trigger muscles, when needed. This would improve the timing and power of the muscle’s activation, thereby strengthening the muscle and improving the user’s walking coordination.” To learn more about Ahad’s work, visit the University of Delaware website.

     

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    Photo Credit: University of Delaware

     

     

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