Many people who are affected by neuromuscular diseases like muscular dystrophy are unable to build the strength they need to perform everyday tasks. This can be especially difficult for children with these conditions, because they can’t learn to do these types of tasks on their own. Using 3D printing, however, it is possible to help them perform many of these types of actions.
3D printers are now able to create a system that attaches to the individual to give them additional strength and control. The Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton, or WREX as it is called, doesn’t require a battery or power source. It operates using custom rubber bands that simply add strength to the individual’s body.
The exoskeleton attaches to the arms and shoulders, and then uses the tension from rubber bands to allow patients to more easily control their movements. The system can be 3D printed in under a day, and designed to fit perfectly on the patient, which makes them much more effective than would otherwise be possible.
Tariq Rahman, PHD and Senior Research Engineer at DuPont Hospital for Children said, “If you do the geometry right and you put the bands in the correct place, you can get this floating sensation for a kid.”
The added strength and control of this device will not only provide the immediate quality of life improvements that are so important for children and adults, but will also help encourage additional exercise and building of strength.
You can see a video of a little girl who is benefiting from the WREX system by clicking HERE.