UWTSD and Cerebra collaborate once more with new and improved walking aids for Henry


Earlier this year, children’s charity, Cerebra, through their Innovation Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Swansea, made a set of innovative crutches for a young boy with Cerebral Palsy.

A collaboration between national charity Cerebra and three research and innovation centres at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has led to the development of bespoke walking aids for a nine-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

Nine-year-old Henry, from Midsomer Norton in Somerset, was the recipient of a set of super-lightweight crutches after mum, Lara, contacted the Cerebra Innovation Centre. She explained the difficulties she encountered trying to find an appropriate set of crutches for Henry, who wanted to spend more time out of his wheelchair.

The crutches were particularly important for Henry to help build up his stamina, particularly as he had his school spots day in the summer. He had also outgrown his old crutches, which meant he was hunching over them when walking and this was not good for his posture, as well as being uncomfortable.

The Cerebra Innovation Centre responded by working with UWTSD colleagues; the Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC) and the Centre for Advanced Batch Manufacture (CBM), to design something that was not only super-lightweight, but also heavy-duty.

Lara explains that it didn’t take long for Henry to get used to his new crutches: "Henry took to his crutches so well. He would use them throughout the day at school, during physio and from getting from A to B. They really helped to build his stamina for his school sports day where he competed in his framer-runner. He was able to use it for over an hour and took part in archery, running and even hurdles!"

This was the first project of its kind conducted by the team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre and, as with any pilot project, they were able to revisit and could see how a possible modification could improve Henry’s mobility further still. It wasn’t long before Lara received a call from Product Design Manager, Dr Ross Head with the offer of a new and improved set of crutches for Henry.

Dr Head said: "This set of crutches for Henry is a slight modification to the last set. Previously we were lucky enough to be helped by CBM. They manufactured some parts from titanium for us to make a strong, yet lightweight set of crutches. This time, however, we collaborated closely with them to help ‘lightweight’ the parts even more.

"Due to the incredible strength-to-weight ratio of titanium, we were able to further reduce the weight of the parts, resulting in possibly the lightest and coolest, 3D printed titanium and carbon fibre crutches in the world!

"With further help from Carbon Fibre Tubes LTD, who generously provided some stunning carbon fibre tubes for the project, the Cerebra Innovation Centre design team have produced a beautiful, functional and awesome set of crutches for Henry."

Henry has a fun-packed few months coming up, full of activities, so this is perfect timing. First up is a 100m race in his frame-runner, followed by a ski trip, before breaking out the frame-runner again to take part in a 5km race! This will be the furthest Henry has run and not only that, but he’ll be also chasing down a Paralympian!

Wishing Henry all the absolute best with his sporting endeavours!

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

Mobile: 07384 467071

Email: Rebecca.Davies@uwtsd.ac.uk