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3 June 2022

SMART Suit improvements to aid those with neuromuscular disease – Engineering and Technology

Research and development are an important part of developing Assistive Technology (AT), which will improve the lives of people with disability.  One research that is currently underway is the creation of a SMART Suit, being undertaken at the University of Liverpool, under Dr Farnaz Nickpour and her team at the Inclusionaries Lab.  Dr Nickpour’s team will work in conjunction with Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK (SMA UK) and Duchenne UK, in the research and creation of the SMART Suit.

The improved exoskeleton suit will help disabled teens and young people who have upper body and arm movement difficulty.  Current exoskeletal suits are frames strapped to the user’s body and can be uncomfortable for some users.  The current exoskeletons are rigid and can restrict movement.  The Exosuits are made of soft fabric that is flexible but still has a high component of framework.  Dr Nickpour said, “Good design is people-centred and technology-enabled, improves the quality of life and actively contributes to a more fair and equitable society.”

Video of current type Exoskeleton suit from City University of New York:

SMA UK CEO, Angela Smith-Morgan said “Our dream is to create a ‘Wearable Suit’ light enough to be worn under clothes which will replace lost upper body strength. This really will be life-changing for people living with SMA and other conditions.”

The project is being enabled by funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. This grant will enable the prototype originally developed by Solid Biosciences, to be improved. With the help of Duchenne UK, the suit will be developed and eventually brought onto the market.

Read the article Upper-body mobility suit project to help people with neuromuscular diseases

Find out about Dr Nickpours work at Inclusionaries Lab

Learn about Spinal Muscular Atrophy