Next stage of revolutionary SMART Suit project gets £50,000 boost from The Brothers Trust

May 11, 2023 11:26 am

The revolutionary SMART Suit project supported by Leicestershire Duchenne charity Alex’s Wish, has received a further boost with The Brothers Trust donating £50,000 towards the next stage of development.

Alex’s Wish, Duchenne UK & The Brothers Trust with Tom Holland

Teenager Alex Hallam, who lives with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and gives his name to Alex’s Wish, recently helped road test the proof-of-concept prototype on TV. Alex was one of the first people to try out the suit which aids arm and upper body function.

Duchenne UK (DUK) has now secured almost half of the £700,000 funding it needs to build more beta stage prototypes for user and clinical testing, enabling the robotic device to be refined and brought to market within 48 months.

The SMART Suit is being developed by DUK in partnership with SMA UK and the University of Liverpool, with £1.25m funding from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Further investment has also come from Duchenne charities DUK and Joining Jack. Alex’s Wish provided £87,000 towards the alpha stage of the project in 2022.

The device has the potential to help others not just affected by Duchenne, including Spinal Muscular Atrophy and those with neuromuscular diseases, stroke survivors, and military veterans.

Emily Reuben, CEO and Co-Founder of DUK, says: “The technological evolution in hardware has ignored the disabled. We have mobile phones, electric cars, drones – but nothing to help disabled people move their arms. We are delighted to be able to employ the state-of-the-art technology developed by SRI International in a product that will meet this need.”

Emma Hallam, Alex’s Wish founder and mum to Alex, said: “When Duchenne robs a child or young adult of the use of their arms, there is no suitable device to help them retain their independence and dignity. This suit will enable them to participate more fully in class, give them the confidence to progress to higher education and ultimately break down the barriers to opportunities that exist in society today.”

“We are so grateful to The Brothers Trust for their ongoing support – and of course to everyone who has funded this project. Alex’s Wish is also donating an additional £20,000 to The Brothers Trust donation of £50,000, so that we can purchase one of the new prototypes to help take this exciting project to the next stage.”

Nikki Holland of The Brothers Trust said “Such a technological breakthrough for people with physical disabilities is long overdue. The Brothers Trust likes to see tangible gains and outcomes from our grants. Seeing this suit become viable and helping young men like Alex will be a great reward for our efforts.”

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