UArizona team developing robotic device for kids with cerebral palsy

Apr 29, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:52 am

(Photo provided by Northern Arizona University Biomechatronics Lab)...

(Photo provided by Northern Arizona University Biomechatronics Lab)

(Photo provided by Northern Arizona University Biomechatronics Lab)

PHOENIX — A University of Arizona researcher and his team are working to develop innovative ways to help children combat the physical limitations of cerebral palsy.

“Kids are supposed to be active, playing with their friends and really learning effective movement patterns that will allow them to be independent as they move into adulthood,” Benjamin Conner, a Ph.D. and M.D. candidate at UArizona’s College of Medicine in Phoenix., told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

He and his team are developing a fanny pack-powered robotic exoskeleton for children suffering from cerebral palsy.

“The motors in that fanny pack pull on steel cables that go all the way down to a pulley at the ankle,” Conner explained. “It’s able to assist and resist movements at the ankle while the kid walks.”

The exoskeletons are designed not to fully cooperate with the children wearing the device. Conner says the exoskeletons are equipped with a resistive feature.

“It actually makes walking a little more difficult, the idea being that it’s a therapeutic device,” Conner said.

“It’s demanding that the kids push harder when they take a step to activate their muscles at the right time … it adapts to how the kid walks. The harder they push when they take a step, the harder the exoskeleton will push back and the more it will resist.”

This enables children with cerebral palsy to train their brains, strengthen their muscles and build muscle memory.

Conner’s team has worked with cerebral palsy patients as young as 6 years old.

“Motion is medicine,” Conner said. “To be physically active is such an important part of not only physical well being but our mental well being.”

Conner hopes the exoskeleton will be further developed to eventually work on younger children and adults, and even those suffering from strokes or multiple sclerosis.

The exoskeleton is still in development and the children need to use it in the College of Medicine’s labs so that results can be properly gauged.

Eventually, he wants the children to take them wherever they walk, especially at school.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures at a campaign rally Saturd...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins Missouri and Idaho caucuses, sweeps Michigan GOP convention

Trump continued his march toward the GOP nomination, winning caucuses in Idaho and Missouri and sweeping the convention in Michigan.

11 hours ago

Maine man, 79, dies while hiking Pyramid Trail in Sedona...

Damon Allred

Gov. Katie Hobbs announces Extreme Heat Preparedness Plan, establishes chief heat officer

Gov. Katie Hobbs announced the state's first Extreme Heat Preparedness Plan, creating the country's first state level heat officer.

11 hours ago

Kacey Musgraves, center, performs at the Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Su...

Kacey Musgraves to play Glendale concert in September

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves is scheduled to perform at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale on Sept. 27.

14 hours ago

Jose Andres Guerrero Talamantes...

Arrest made in fatal hit-and-run case in Carefree from December

Police arrested a man on Friday on felony hit-and-run charges involving death as part of an investigation into a crash that occurred in Carefree.

16 hours ago

Traffic is backed up on Interstate 10 near State Route 347 south of metro Phoenix...

Report lists Phoenix, Tucson among U.S. cities with worst drivers

Two Arizona cities have landed in the top 10 of a national ranking of places with the worst drivers in the nation.

18 hours ago

Caution tape in front of police car....

2 police officers injured in crash with suspected impaired driver in Phoenix

Two police officers suffered minor injuries in a two-vehicle crash in central Phoenix early Saturday morning.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.


Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

UArizona team developing robotic device for kids with cerebral palsy