We are excited that we have invested £87,000 towards development of revolutionary mobility SMART suit

July 8, 2022 11:28 am

We recently announced that Duchenne UK has been awarded £1.25 million from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund to develop a revolutionary mobility suit.

We are pleased to announce that Alex’s Wish has invested a further £87,000 in the first-of–its-kind exoskeleton ‘SMART suit’ project.

The suit will help disabled teens and young adults use their arms and upper body, giving back people living with Duchenne and other progressive diseases their strength, independence and dignity.

It is being developed by Duchenne UK in partnership with Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK (SMA UK) and the Inclusionaries Lab at the University of Liverpool.

Duchenne is a progressive muscle-wasting disease which affects boys, gradually reducing their ability to walk and, in later stages, to move their upper limbs.

Emma said: “When children lose the ability to walk, a wheelchair keeps them moving and independent. But no device exists to help when they lose the use of their arms.

Technological leaps in recent years haven’t been reflected in devices for disabled kids, whose needs are often ignored. We are working to produce a life-changing, wearable, SMART Suit device to restore upper body mobility, and to help children do the little things that are the massive things, hugging mum, brushing teeth or raising their hands in class. The SMART Suit will transform disabled children into able bodied children. We’re so grateful to everyone involved in the suit’s development and look forward to seeing it come to market.”

The suit’s initial prototype was developed by Solid Biosciences. Duchenne UK will take on its development and devise a strategy to bring it to market.

Emily Reuben, CEO of Duchenne UK said: “For people living with progressive conditions like DMD and SMA, losing upper body function means losing the ability to feed yourself, put your hand up in class, or hug your loved ones.

Despite incredible technological progress elsewhere, this is a problem that has gone without true innovation in the last 30 years. Because of this, people living with upper-limb disability face barriers in work, education, and their social lives. 

With the help of this award, we can finally change this. A huge thank you to players of People’s Postcode Lottery and the Dream Fund for enabling our dream project to become a reality.”

The Dream Fund is awarded once a year to charities who have developed highly innovative, impactful and collaborative projects.

Angela Smith-Morgan, CEO of SMA UK, said: “We are delighted that Peoples Postcode Lottery have selected this project as part of its Dream Fund. 

Working with Duchenne UK and the Inclusionaries Lab at Liverpool University we have put together our “Dream” project to bring transformational assistive technology to people living with neuromuscular conditions.  Our dream is to create a ‘Wearable Suit” light enough to be worn under clothes, which will replace lost upper body strength – this really will be life changing for people living with SMA and other conditions”

Dr Farnaz Nickpour, Director of The Inclusionaries Lab at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is a unique and timely opportunity to address a long-term ‘wicked problem’ in the design and commercialisation of impactful and desirable solutions for important parts of our society currently disserved by innovation.

Through our innovative collaboration with Duchenne and SMA UK, we want to ensure advanced inclusive and human-centred design principles are embedded in the SMART Suit, and moreover, make our interdisciplinary approach and processes in this project, accessible and applicable in many other areas similarly in need of better more systemic solutions.”

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “The Dream Fund offers an unrivalled opportunity for charities and organisations to work together to deliver an original, high impact, innovative project.

“We are thrilled that SMART suit has been named one of winners of the 2022 Dream Fund, made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.”

Find out more about the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund at https://www.postcodedreamfund.org.uk/

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