"Necessity is the mother of invention" – it's an adage that fits in perfectly with the story of Israeli mom Debby Elnatan. She was faced with the challenge of walking with her son Rotem, who has cerebral palsy and cannot use his legs by himself. Helping her two-year-old move around unaided proved to be a very difficult task, prompting Debby to search for a solution. Now, the system she created for him has become a commercial product that could improve the lives of children suffering from motor impairments around the world.
Called Upsee, the product is being manufactured by Irish company Leckey, and marketed by its postural care brand Firely. Upsee consists of three parts – a harness for the child; a belt for the adult, to which the harness gets attached; and special sandals, which allow the parent and child to step simultaneously, freeing their hands and creating a much more stable, varied and stimulating walking experience.
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To arrive at the commercial version of the product, the Firefly team worked closely with Debby to further develop her prototype. It was a multidisciplinary effort started in 2012, combining the expertise of engineers, designers, textile experts and therapists.
"Short-term, the Upsee improves special needs family participation and quality of life, while research suggests it has the potential to help the with physical and emotional development in the longer term,” Firefly's clinical research manager and occupational therapist, Clare Canale, said in a press statement.
The adult belt is available in one adjustable, standard size. The child harness comes in various sizes in blue or pink while the sandal comes in one standard size as well as infant, which is available in combination with the extra-small harness only.
Firefly says the design uses durable and breathable fabrics that are comfortable, resistant and easy to clean. It costs US$489 from the Firefly website and will start selling on April 7th.
You can see it in use, in the video below.