THE DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND VALIDATION OF A NEW ASSISTIVE WALKING DEVICE FOR A CHILD WITH CEREBRAL PALSY
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Mechanical Engineering Honors Theses; 2008
Cerebral palsy is a neuromuscular disorder that affects movement and posture. It is characterized by poor muscle tone and posture, spasticity, unsteady gait, limited mobility, speech impairments, and a forward displaced center of gravity. A child with cerebral palsy experiences certain impairments towards normal function and development, making typically routine daily functions such as eating, walking and writing a challenge. Perhaps the most prominent challenge for children with cerebral palsy is walking. Children with cerebral palsy use commercially available assistive walking devices to have some mobility and independence, but these devices are bulky, making it hard for the child to get close to his or her school work and friends. These devices are also not beneficial for every child because they may not provide sufficient body weight support which can result in a poor gait pattern and improper stance while the child is in the walker. The purpose of this research is to design, build and validate the effectiveness of a more efficient assistive walking device designed to help a specific six year old child with cerebral palsy interact with his peers and his environment. In this study, the device that the specific child was previously using was analyzed using mechanical and biomechanical engineering principles to show desirable aspects of and areas that are lacking in designs that are currently commercially available. Video analysis and gait analysis were used to show the effective gait pattern of the child while using this assistive walking device. This analysis showed that the child was walking in crouch gait with hyperextension in his hips while using his current walker. His daily activities and functional capabilities were analyzed in collaboration with the Occupational Therapy Department at the Ohio State University. This analysis showed that the child was unable to play with his friends, pull up to a table, or get close enough to use a computer while in his current assistive walking device. The results of these analyses helped show where improvements needed to be made in the new design. The improvements that are needed include a more open, smaller and light weight frame, a portable work surface, and additional body weight support. The new design was createdusing these needed improvements as a guide. The construction and final analysis of this new assistive walking device was performed during the spring of 2008 in order to validate the anticipated effectiveness of the improvements.
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