A team of researchers from the University of Delaware has received nearly $200,000 in start-up funding to develop a motorized ankle foot device for children with cerebral palsy (CP) that includes a novel artificial muscle.
The brace is the first lower extremity device designed to correct alignment or provide support using soft muscle-like “smart materials,” known as dielectric elastomer actuators, that contract in response to electric current.
Made from off-the-shelf elastic materials, these artificial muscles closely mimic the function of the body’s skeletal muscle and can help children with CP that struggle to complete a range of motion under their own power. The device is lightweight, compact and noiseless, too, reducing the size of the orthosis needed while increasing the wearer’s degree of freedom in movement — a vast improvement over heavier, more rigid technologies.
A type of intensive therapy that asks children with unilateral cerebral palsy (CP) to learn and practice magic tricks may help improve their hand and arm function and enhance their ability to do everyday tasks, a study reports.
The study, “Upper Limb Function of Children with Unilateral Cerebral Palsy After a Magic-Themed HABIT: A Pre-Post-Study with 3- and 6-Month Follow-Up,” was published in the Journal of Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics.
Children with unilateral CP have movement limitations mainly on one side of the body, affecting their ability to perform daily activities that require the use and coordination of both hands.
Hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy, or HABIT, is based on the principles of motor learning theory and neuroplasticity through structured, playful, and activity-based tasks involving two hands. HABIT includes motor learning principles of task selection, a structured practice of grading tasks, feedback, and home practice. In this way, children are engaged in fun activities and supportive environments that are different from typical therapy.
A one-week intensive exercise program based on virtual reality (VR) failed to improve posture control in children with cerebral palsy (CP).
These are the preliminary findings of a larger study assessing the effects of a six-week, therapist-monitored home VR gaming program designed for children and adolescents with CP.
The study, “The Effects of a 5-Day Virtual-Reality Based Exercise Program on Kinematics and Postural Muscle Activity in Youth with Cerebral Palsy,” was published in Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics.
Cerebral palsy comprises a group of disorders that affect posture and restrict movement caused by non-progressive brain lesions that occur during pregnancy or infancy. Children and adolescents affected by CP are more likely to fall and injure themselves due to their lack of balance and posture.
A Delaware team including Erin Crowgey, PhD, associate director of Bioinformatics with Nemours Biomedical Research, has published a study in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Bioinformatics, showing that DNA patterns in circulating blood cells can be used to help identify spastic cerebral palsy (CP) patients (Crowgey et al.).
The work represents a collaboration among researchers at Nemours, the University of Delaware (UD) and Genome Profiling LLC (GenPro for short). Co-authors of the paper include Robert Akins, PhD, the project principal investigator, who directs the Center for Pediatric Clinical Research and Development at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children; UD molecular biologist Adam Marsh, PhD, who is chief science officer at GenPro; and Karyn Robinson, MS and Stephanie Yeager, MS, of Nemours Biomedical Research.