Category: Prototype

Gait Trainer For Children With Cerebral Palsy

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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a gait trainer for children with cerebral palsy (CP). The gait trainer is designed to improve a child's gait and encourage normal gait motion. The prototype was tested with two children at the Nisonger Center in Columbus, Ohio. The main design requirement for the prototype gait trainer was to enable the user to stand with proper postural alignment and to encourage the child to support most of their own weight, leading to increased muscle awareness, socialization, and independence. The final gait trainer design consisted of a postural alignment system (vest and back pad), weight support system (harness), caster wheels with multiple drag options, and a lightweight and adjustable aluminum frame. A harness that attached to the frame helped support 50 percent of the child's weight while he is walking. Often children with CP have poor muscle strength and tone, and the harness will help to give the users the ability to stand. The amount of weight that the harness supports is important, because if it supports too much weight, then the child will be in a seated position and not standing up properly with their feet flat on the ground. For this reason, the harness on this trainer was designed to be adjustable. It is also very important that the gait trainer be adjustable to fit each user properly. The straps and buckles of the vest and harness were all easily adjustable. The frame was also adjustable in height and width. The back pad could also be adjusted to move towards the front or back of the device. The adjustable back pad helped to increase the stability of the device and also allowed the child to move forward in the device to be closer to a table, for meals or play. The frame was strong and stable and could withstand the static and dynamic loads from the child. The frame supported the harness, vest and back pad, was open in the front to make it easier for the child to approach a table or interact with their peers, and was lightweight so that a child with minimal leg strength was able to use the device. The frame was constructed of durable materials that were intended to last several years as the child grows. The prototype also included a braking system with variable drag options, swivel locks, and the directional capability of the Rifton Medium Pacer (see separate entry) wheels. Having locks on the wheels allowed the child to be able to stand in one location without needing to control the device. The locks also provided a more stable, stationary frame for the caregiver when they were trying to get the child into and out of the trainer. The variable drag provided an additional method to control the pace of the child when walking, and the swivel locks, if needed, helped to guide the child in a straight line. Finally, the directional option on the wheels did not allow the child to move in reverse. The Rifton wheels are used for the two front wheels of the device, with two stroller wheels in the back. The total cost of parts and material was approximately $916. TITLE: The Gait Trainer for Children with Cerebral Palsy. JOURNAL: NSF 2010 Engineering Senior Design Projects to Aid Persons with Disabilities. REF: Chapter 8: pp. 90-91. PAGES: 3 with cover. 2010.


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Gait Trainer For Children With Cerebral Palsy