Tariq Rahman, PhD, a principal research scientist at the Nemours/Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Delaware, received a $50,000 research grant for his project to assess the benefits the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX) can have on children with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). The WREX was designed and developed by the Pediatric Engineering Research Laboratory (PERL) in the Center for Orthopedics Research and Development (CORD), Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. It allows patients with upper-limb weakness to perform activities of daily living or help address common complications, such as contractures.
The grant, which was awarded by Cure SMA, will use outcomes-based data to demonstrate that the WREX is making a difference for this population in terms of their quality of life. “We will perform a small study to examine the benefits of an upper-extremity exoskeleton for people with SMA. We will use standard range of motion testing as well as three tools to measure the effects of the WREX on upper-extremity performance over the course of one year,” Rahman said.
The results from this study will be used as the basis for larger, multisite trial that could ultimately result in this technology being available to more of the SMA community.