The first exoskeleton for children, soon an award-winning invention?

It will have taken more than 50 years for a very first exoskeleton for children to see the light of day. This innovation is from Elena García Armada, a scientist nominated for the European Inventor Award. The results will be published on June 21, 2022.

2013. For the first time in the history of exoskeletons, little Daniela takes her first steps with the help of a walking robot assistant, a tool previously reserved for adults. This achievement, the young girl paralyzed after a car accident, owes it to Elena García Armada, a Spanish scientist nominated for the European Inventor Prize 2022, a kind of Eurovision for invention. The professor of engineering at the Spanish General Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) developed his child model after remarking with astonishment that there was only one adult version. The first large exoskeletons were created in the 1960s. It will therefore have been necessary to wait more than fifty years for paralyzed children to also benefit from walking aids. Especially since young people have ” a higher risk of muscle deterioration and spinal deformities at an early age, which ultimately affects their lungs and heart and shortens their lifespan “, Emphasizes the researcher. However, this robotic device should allow children suffering from neuromuscular disorders to walk effortlessly.

17 million families affected

As soon as the photos of Daniela’s first steps are shared online, other parents exposed to the same difficulties knock on the door of Elena García Armada. “ When I looked at the numbers and saw that 17 million families were in this sad situation and no solution was considered, I realized that I myself had to solve the problem “, she explains. She decided to set up a medical research center, Marsi Bionics, able to industrialize the first prototypes before marketing two of its patented innovations in the following years. Since, Marsi Bionics employs 25 people and Elena’s pediatric exoskeleton has been approved for use in rehabilitation centers and hospitals in the EU and Mexico.

Assisted by artificial intelligence

Intended for children aged 3 to 10 years, the exoskeleton consists of an adjustable titanium suit connected to a battery that works using springs assisted by artificial intelligence (AI), embraces the child’s body, from the trunk to the feet, and mimics natural walking . ” His invention not only improves the health and well-being of children in wheelchairs by enabling them to get up, it also gives new hope to families and caregivers who have been waiting for a device like this for many years. “, For his part, states António Campinos, President of the European Patent Office, which organizes the competition.

13 finalists for the European Inventor Award 2022

After almost ten years of research, Elena Garcìa Armada is among ” the best of the best by European inventors. Thirteen finalists stand neck and neck for the European Inventor Award 2022, with a wide range of projects, from research to industry, via agriculture or even consumption. In the category ” health », A team of French-Swiss inventors has developed a platform of therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of cancer. But that’s not all, some’s imagination knows no bounds! For example, a French researcher has developed a method for ” decontamination »Soil contaminated by metal-eating plants! A German inventor, meanwhile, had the idea to manufacture his first easily-opened closure element, practical for opening all kinds of products with one hand, from bag and school closures to helmet buckles. … The winners will be revealed at an online ceremony (linked to below) on June 21, 2022.

“All rights to reproduction and representation are reserved. © This article is written by Clotilde Costil, journalist”

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