By Michiel Verplancke. Fifteen international partners have joined forces to develop an exoskeleton for children with cerebral palsy. The complex skeleton will help them learn to take steps and learn how to walk. Until now, these kinds of exoskeletons only existed for adults. The MOTION project aims to change this.

More than 1 in 600 children are born with cerebral palsy. About half of them cannot walk without using aids. The muscles of these children are still functional in principle, but their brain’s control over them is faulty. There are also a lot of children who develop cerebral palsy later in life due to e.g. a tumor, a stroke, or some kind of trauma. It is these children that the researchers want to help with the project ‘Mechanised Orthosis for Children with Neurological Disorders,‘ or MOTION for short.

Easier training

“We focus on children between the ages of 8 and 12,” explains Prof. Luc Labey from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at KU Leuven (Belgium). “Given that the problems they have are primarily to do with the control of their muscles, we think that our exoskeleton can be of great help. The brain and nervous system are very pliable organs.”

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