Children with cerebral palsy to benefit from ‘artificial muscles’

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.

Full story at news-medical.net