Category Archives: CIC

Poppy’s Dream

Poppy and Rob

Poppy and Rob

On 26th June 2016 Poppy Jones and her dad Rob will take part in the Cardiff Triathlon together to raise money for Cerebra. But they will face an additional challenge – ten year old Poppy has cerebral palsy and Rob will be pushing/pulling her around the course using custom made equipment specially designed by our Innovation Centre.

Ten year old Poppy was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and chronic lung disease. She can’t sit, stand, roll or support herself and life is a daily challenge for her. She has suffered many health problems over the years and there have been times when doctors didn’t think she would pull through. Dad Rob explains “there have been times when it has been very touch and go and we feel very lucky that she has been with us for the last 10 years”.

But having a life-limiting condition doesn’t stop Poppy having fun. Poppy is a determined character with a great sense of humour. Her sense of adventure knows no bounds. She is a real thrill seeker and adrenaline junkie and has a true competitive spirit.

Rob, meanwhile is facing a challenge of his own in getting fit for the event. He’s never taken part in a triathlon before and isn’t a regular swimmer, runner or cyclist. At Christmas he could only manage two lengths of the local swimming pool and is using his ancient bicycle to train.

Rob running on a treadmill

Rob is put through his paces

The University of Wales Trinity St David, who are project partners in CIC, are also fully supporting Rob and Poppy’s challenge. The University’s renowned health and sports specialists Dr Peter Herbert and Nalda Wainwright, who coach elite athletes in their high performance laboratory, will be giving advice to Rob and Poppy on their training programme.

Mum Rachel, along with the rest of the family and friends, are right behind Poppy and Rob and are fully supporting them all the way, providing all the back-up and help they need. Rob’s motivation for doing this is simply to help his daughter: “taking part in this triathlon is so exciting for her and psychologically it will really benefit her. She gets so frustrated at the limits her condition puts on her and this will really focus her mind on what she can do. Poppy doesn’t think ‘I can’t’ but rather ‘with a little help I can’. I’ve got my work cut out though as Poppy doesn’t want to just take part – she wants to win!”

The project is also a huge challenge for Cerebra’s Innovation Centre who are designing and making the equipment that Rob and Poppy will need to take them to the finish line. Having seen one of CIC’s recent projects (the surfboard), Rob realised what it was possible to achieve with a little help and decided to set the charity the challenge of designing, engineering and manufacturing three unique sporting products.

Innovation Centre's design for Poppy's boat

Latest design for Poppy’s boat

In principle the plan sounded quite easy for the design team – Poppy and Rob need a chair on wheels and a boat. But Poppy wants to win! So they need a chair on wheels with suspension, every ergonomic issue addressed and resolved, it must roll well and true and must be comfortable for both users. It must be light, stiff yet comfortable. The “boat” will be a unique design, sleek, slender and with the least hydrodynamic resistance possible, yet it must also be stable, strong – and unsinkable! Engineering will be one of the biggest challenges, but the team have lots of friends who have already offered lots of help. They will be collaborating with V-Track seating systems, Loop Wheels, J.D.Marine for welding, and have been offered significant design advice by naval architect Richard Pemberton from Falmouth. Oh – and as Poppy’s favourite colour is yellow, that’s what it’s going to be!

Dr Ross Head, Product Design Manager at CIC, explains “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to be a part of this challenge. It is incredibly humbling to be around someone like Poppy- she is bright, bubbly, smiles all the time, she doesn’t complain about her situation, she just gets on and makes the best of every situation. When we met with Rob he was very emotional at the level of support and enthusiasm we showed towards them. But it is the same for us, to be able to help them achieve this impressive task really will be a moment to remember”.

Rob at the starting point in Cardiff Bay

Rob meets The team at the starting point in Cardiff Bay

Welsh Triathlon and organisers of the Cardiff event, Always Aim High, are fully supportive of Poppy and Rob’s challenge. Amy Jenner from Wales Triathlon said “’Welsh Triathlon are committed to making sure everyone can achieve their Triathlon challenge. This is a dual challenge – both Rob’s amazing physical challenge and Poppy’s determination to experience life at its full. The Cerebra team designing the special equipment, the race organisers Always Aim High, and the support crew, have worked wonderfully together to make Poppy and Rob’s dreams come alive as well as raise money for charity Cerebra and other brain injured children”.

 

We’ll keep you updated on Rob and Poppy’s progress over the next few months.

You can watch a great video about Rob and Poppy on our YouTube channel.

If you would like to support Rob and Poppy please visit www.justgiving.com/Rob-Jones42

Innovation Centre Create High tech horse riding helmet for young boy with unique head shape.

Tommy-Lee in action

Tommy-Lee in action

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC), along with the help of BSI (British Standards Institution) have taken the challenge to help a young boy with autism and a unique head shape to fulfil one of his dreams.

16 year-old Tommy-Lee from Brighton wanted to go horse riding with his friends but his unique head shape prevented him from wearing a riding helmet. Without a riding helmet he was not allowed to participate for safety reasons.

CIC’s mission is to design and develop products that will allow children to be included in activities and daily living. They focus on careful attention to the aesthetics of the product to ensure that the child not only fits in, but in some cases becomes the object of envy of the playground.

In conjunction with the MSc Industrial Design course at UWTSD, Swansea, the CIC team used high tech equipment to develop a bespoke riding helmet for Tommy Lee.  Dr Ross Head, Product Design Manager at CIC said:

“We knew that the basic principle of a helmet is quite simple but the journey to get to a safe and useable helmet was quite complex. The basic method has been to use a 3D digital scanner to scan in Tommy Lee’s head shape, the software helps to stitch the head form together so a perfectly accurate model is achieved. Then we used this data in our computer aided design software to draw the head shape. The helmet was styled around this shape, and then the cavity was removed leaving the exact shape for Tommy Lee’s head. This model was sent to a manufacturer to machine the exact shapes from the correct density of expanded polystyrene.

The team who helped Tommy-Lee's horse riding dream come true

The team who helped Tommy-Lee’s horse riding dream come true

“Upon hearing of the project and the likely cost which would have prohibited us from continuing, a very kind gentleman, Mr Gordon Coventry from a charity called Claire’s Project, offered to help fund the cost of the helmet with a generous donation of £2200.”

Gordon Coventry explained why he was moved to donate to this project: “Watching Sophie Christiansen take part in the 2012 Paralympics dressage competition was inspiring. Her face when she claimed gold was pure happiness. There was a similar look on the face of the young boy on the surfboard recently designed by CIC. I was happy to support Cerebra to enable other children to take part in activities and sport they haven’t previously been able to access”.

CIC approached the British Standards Institution (BSI) for a quote for testing the helmet to ensure it meets the same standard that a regular helmet would be subjected to. BSI kindly agreed to fund the entire cost of the testing by way of support to get Tommy Lee horse riding and tested the helmet against the BSI Kitemark™ scheme.

Maureen Sumner Smith, Managing Director UK & Ireland, BSI said: “We’re delighted to have been able to support this really worthwhile cause through our testing services. It’s been very rewarding  to work alongside CIC to help develop this bespoke riding helmet for Tommy and we’re sure that he will now get to enjoy many hours of horse riding from this.”

CIC created six helmets in total. Five of them were sent to the BSI headquarters for testing and the remaining one was finished to a beautiful standard so that, with the exception of its size, it would be indistinguishable from another riding helmet.

The team from CIC delivered the helmet to Tommy-Lee on 25th February and he couldn’t wait to put it into action. Sue Boyce of the Three Greys Riding School, Brighton, where Tommy Lee will be going horse riding said “I am very pleased that Tommy Lee will finally be able to go horse riding with his class mates, which is something he has been looking forward to for almost a year. I am sure he will love it. It is so lovely to hear that so many people have made so much effort to make this happen. We are really looking forward to it.”

Tim Schvetz, Tommy Lee’s teacher at The Cedar Centre in Brighton said, “I am absolutely thrilled that Tommy Lee is finally getting the opportunity to ride as a result of this project. He has been so keen to get on a horse and this is his chance. This will vitalise his independence. We are all so grateful to Ross and the team for their persistent hard work to get the helmet finished”.

You can watch a report on this story which was featured on ITV Wales.

Thank you to Terry Applin for allowing us to use the lovely photos below:

“CleverstiX” – a clever way to bring fun to the dinner table!

CleverstiX

CleverstiX

Dr Ross Head, from The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) recently came across a novel little product at the OT show in the NEC that we wanted to share with you. It might help to bring a little fun to the dinner table!

“CleverstiX are like a pair of chopsticks, but they are joined together at the top, with innovative finger loops to enable them to be used by children. Not only are they a fun way to eat, the scientific benefit is immense. Due to the fact they require the user to open and close (there is no spring involved) the fine motor control used is a great way to train muscles, as well as hand-eye coordination.

They come in really fun colours and the finger loops are adjustable so they will suit many different sizes of user. They are a Korean invention and there are over 5 million Korean children using them. CleverstiX have been praised by the National Handwriting Association and endorsed by the Science Museum as a great way to increase dexterity and fine motor control.

I took them home to test with my children. It just so happened that it was my night to cook and for some reason we decided on Burritos. Not very Korean, I know, but my kids loved the CleverstiX and ate the whole lot! They now make a regular appearance on the table, and are a great way to keep the children entertained whilst eating. They were such a simple concept but the children were able to pick up any and all of the pieces of exploded burrito! They have wide and quite “grippy” tips to hold the food, and worked just as well with noodles and fruit etc.

Have a look at the website for more information: http://www.cleverstix.com/. They are available in lots of places and online with more details on the website”.

-Dr Ross Head, CIC

CIC Test Their Surf Access Vehicle (SAV)

The team test out the Surf Access Vehicle (SAV)

The team test out the Surf Access Vehicle (SAV)

The CIC team recently tested their new surfing products at Poppit Sands in Pembrokeshire.

The team has developed a Tandem Surf Board and a Surf Access Vehicle (SAV) for use by surfers who could not use conventional surfing equipment so easily. In collaboration with Tonic Surf Therapy and Walkin’ on Water Surf School, the CIC team developed the SAV to help transport people from the car park across rugged terrain (sand dunes and rocks) down to the water’s edge to plunge straight into the sea. Once in around 50cm of water it is much easier to transfer onto a surfboard.

The unique design of the SAV was developed with a UWTSD graduate Automotive Designer Ben Hammonds. It features a reclining back so that a surfboard can fit onto the device and to made transfers easier as the surfer can slide straight off the back.

Many thanks to Shon Devey (Tonic Surf Therapy) and Kwame Salam (Walkin’ on Water Surf School) for their help in the development and to Tina Marie Evans for thoroughly testing the equipment!

You can see a video of the team testing out the equipment below:

A young girl’s Ice Skating wish is granted

The CIC Sleigh will allow Enna Thea to go skating with her friends

The CIC Sleigh will allow Enna Thea to go skating with her friends

The team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) are about to grant a young girl who has Cerebral Palsy her very own Christmas ice skating wish.

Eight year-old Enna Thea Kul-Want from London has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy so has not been able to skate because she can’t wear conventional skates.

But this Christmas, thanks to the team at the Swansea-based Cerebra Innovation Centre, Enna Thea will be able to ice skate with her family and friends for the very first time.

The product was designed after Enna Thea’s mum, Catherine, contacted the CIC team after her daughter had been invited to an ice skating party at the Broadgate Ice Rink in London’s Exchange Square.

Catherine didn’t want her daughter to miss out on the celebration so after discussing ideas with Dr Ross Head from the University’s Cerebra Innovation Centre, the team set about designing and creating an original product styled on Santa’s sleigh that would allow Catherine to skate behind and push Enna Thea along on the inside.

The sturdy stylish design has been manufactured from birch ply with a metallic red weather proof lacquer coating. It is fitted with polypropylene skating blades which have been machined with the same radius on the blade as regular skates allowing the sleigh to skate in a straight line, but also making it steerable. The product is finished with a beautiful jewel encrusted, royal blue velvet, fit for a young princess that will allow Enna Thea to direct her mum and “skate” wherever she wants.

Dr Ross Head of the Cerebra Innovation Centre, based at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David said:  “We are so lucky to be able to do this as a job. I hope that Enna Thea really enjoys her skating party and many more hours of skating afterwards. Our job is to design and make beautiful products to help kids with neurological conditions, which brings an amazing sense of satisfaction for us. Our design skills are challenged but put to good use in making products that make children’s and family’s lives easier, and give them the same opportunities as other kids.”

Catherine Yass had already been in contact with Dr Ross Head regarding a different product and knew that the team’s designs are always beautifully designed as well as being extremely functional.

“I had written to Ross to thank him for his work on a different product and as a ‘by the way’ comment, asked him whether he had any solutions to ice skating.  He came straight back saying that he’d love to help us and has designed us the most amazing present.  We are over the moon – the sled is absolutely beautiful.  Enna Thea finds it all incredibly exciting,” says Catherine.

Catherine and Enna Thea tested out the sleigh on Sunday December 13th at Broadgate Ice Rink, Exchange Square, London. EC2A 2BQ.

To find out more information about the Cerebra Innovation Centre, or to approach the team with an idea for new equipment, please contact cic@cerebra.org.uk or 01792 483688.

As you can see from the smile on her face, Enna Thea loved the sleigh!

Innovation Centre receives royalties

IMG_6552 (002)

Pictured: left to right: Daniel Cuthbertson (CIC), James Leckey (CEO Leckey and Firefly), Cerebra Mascot Sir E Bear, Ross Head (CIC/UWTSD), Conor McKernan and the Firefly Team.

The team from the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) recently visited Leckey and Firefly in Belfast to receive a royalty cheque for £23,199.

Some products originally designed by the CIC team are being manufactured and sold by Leckey, who specialise in a variety of positioning equipment for children with special needs.

Royalties are given to Cerebra every time they sell any of the products designed by CIC. These include GoTo seats, Scoot seats, and the supermarket “fixed” GoTo seat.

Ross Head from CIC said:  “We are so proud to be involved with these amazing products. We could never have hoped to have made something so successful when we designed the first prototypes all those years ago. Our collaboration with Leckey and Firefly has been amazing, the guys in Belfast are so kind and accommodating and share our passion to help. It is not about the money for any of us, we all just want to see kids being included into everyday life, but we cannot deny that the money Leckey give us allows us to continue the amazing work that we are blessed to be able to do. The money contributes directly to new and exciting product concepts to help children and also to high level research that will enable us to be more effective in finding solutions for more children. I love my job and am lucky to be surrounded by such a dedicated team.”

Take a look at our CIC pages to see if the team can help your family.

Safety gate success for the Innovation Centre

Cole in the car with his safety gate

Cole in the car with his safety gate

The Cerebra Innovation Centre were recently contacted by Nicola, the mother of four year-old Cole.

Young Cole  suffers from Tuberous Sclerosis – a rare genetic condition that can cause benign tumours to grow all over his body, as well as Epilepsy and Autism. He also has behaviour and communication difficulties.

Cole has a baby sister, 9 month old Myla whom he loves her dearly, but his sensory issues mean that he likes to hear her cry, often meaning that he can get overly excited and lashes out at her.

Mum Nicola told us: “This is bad enough in the house as Myla can at least be kept out of Cole’s way but in the car, even with a harness, he still managed to get to her. I would only take the kids out together to places that were close by  and where I could distract Cole with food. Even then driving was stressful and I often had to pull over to stop him getting to her. It was dangerous because I was constantly worrying about what he was doing and so didn’t have full concentration on the road.”

After trying various different solutions from harnesses to dog guards with little success, Nicola contacted the Cerebra Innovation Centre to see if the team could develop a new solution to keep everyone safe whilst out and about in the car. The team came up with the safety gate.

“The Safety Gate is fantastic! It looks great and even looks like it is part of the car. It has a window and little holes so Myla and Cole can still see each other. Cole loves it – I think it makes him feel secure as he likes small spaces but the best thing is that I can drive without worrying because I know my daughter is safe. We can now go further afield in the car together and it has made everyday life so much easier. I can’t thank the Innovation Centre team enough. It has changed our lives.”

The Cerebra Innovation Centre are always eager to hear from parents with their ideas for new products and that’s where you come in! If you have an idea for a product that you can’t find anywhere else or need a product adapted to meet your child’s needs, then get in touch! You can contact the team at cic@cerebra.org.uk or 01792 483688.

Surfing Success for Cerebra

Kai getting ready to surf

Kai getting ready to surf

Our Innovation Centre have successfully tested two pioneering new surfing products for disabled children at Llangennith beach in west Wales. Over the summer our designers have developed two products: a tandem surf board with a supportive “bucket” seat that can be used by disabled children whilst being controlled by a trained surf instructor and a Surf Access Vehicle. Both products are for use by children with neurological conditions and have been developed with Surfability UK (surfing for disabled children) and Tonic Surf Therapy (based on the evidence of the effectiveness of surf/ocean therapy programmes in the UK and USA). The team tested the new products at Llangennith beach and they were helped by thirteen-year old surf enthusiast Kai Lewis, from Port Talbot, who has cerebral palsy following a stroke at the age of one.

Kai taking to the waves

Kai riding the waves

Proud mum Leanne Lewis watched on, thrilled as her extreme-sports-loving son enjoyed the new technology. She said “with this now, he is like the king of the sea, he can sit back, relax, and ride the wave. The first wave he caught was the biggest he has ever caught, and my heart was in my mouth. It was amazing and it opens up so many options, not just for Kai, but for other children with disabilities. Hopefully it’s going to get more children out of their wheelchairs, and for a parent of a child in a wheelchair the more you can get them out, the better.” Speaking after the testing Dr Ross Head, CIC Product Design Manager, said: “The day went so well. We could not have hoped for better surf conditions, weather, and great team of people with the desire to make this work. It was an amazing feeling to see Kai surf past shouting with joy.”

The Surf Access Vehicle

The Surf Access Vehicle

He continued: “Recent news coverage has detailed professional level surfing and brought it to an international audience. The sport continues to grow at a very fast pace. Many disabled surf charities are in existence around the world but they are all trying to use regular surfing and other beach access equipment to enable disabled children and adults to surf. “Since its inception CIC has made a tremendous difference to the lives of many children with neurological conditions across the UK. The unique strategic vision for CIC means that we are able to respond to individual requests for help and can make small numbers of bespoke products that focus heavily on individual requirements and inclusion into society. Some of the products in the portfolio are now being commercialised in partnership with third-party manufacturers under licensing agreements.”

Kai using the Surf Access Vehicle

Kai using the Surf Access Vehicle

Read more here about how CIC may be able to help your family. We are grateful to the University of Wales Trinity St David, Surfability UK, Roger Cooper Surfboards, Surf Tonic Therapy and Walking on Water Surf School for working with us on this project.

All photographs used with kind permission of Mark Griffiths.

Ross and the team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre are still in the early stages of trying to make these products available to surf clubs across the country and you can help make that a reality! You can donate below, by calling our fundraising department on 01267 244221 or to donate by text, just text SURF15 and the amount you would like to give to 70070. Thank you for any support you are able to give.

I would NOT like to gift aid my donation

I would like to gift aid my donation

Innovation Centre work on new surf products

The surf access vehicle

The surf access vehicle

Surf access vehicle: SAV

One of the new products being pioneered by CIC this summer has been the new Surf Access Vehicle (SAV).

Being developed in conjunction with Surf Tonic, a West Wales based surf school which specialises in surfing for people with various conditions, the SAV is aimed at transporting people from the car park to the water’s edge, and then into the water to aid transferral onto a surfboard. The cool design was created in partnership with a student who did a short internship with CIC called Ben Hammonds. The concept is designed such that a person of any size, any ability and condition, can sit in the seat comfortably and with dignity, be transported across rough and sandy terrain and then plunge into the waves. At this point, the seat can lay flat, allowing the surfer to slide off the SAV and be transferred onto the board.

Surfing is well documented as a great treatment for many conditions. Being outdoors, the fresh air, the sound and the motion of the water all conspire to make us feel great, so the more people who get to experience this fun sport the better. And with the length of coastline we have in the UK we are spoilt for choice!

The SAV is nearly complete after a long summer of development, but we hope that it will be in service during September and due to its superior materials and construction should see many years of use. We look forward to updating you with stories of its success and some photos of the real thing in action!

Tandem seated surfboard

Another surfing product that CIC have been asked to assist with has been a tandem surfboard which has a seat on it. This enormous surfboard can be ridden by two people: an instructor, who will paddle, surf and control the board, and a surfer who will sit in the seat and experience all the fun and motion of the waves.

CIC surfers, Ross and Dan designed and developed the board in collaboration with Ben Clifford from Surfability in Swansea, and Roger Cooper surfboards in Cwmafan, near Port Talbot. The board measures 12 ft long, and 36 inches wide and has an adjustable bucket seat from a racing car. The seat was very kindly made and donated by Jamie McDonald from Techneat Tanks.

The board has been made for Kai,  a local Swansea surfer with Cerebral Palsy, but it is hoped that as many as 50 children will benefit from the board each year and with a life expectancy of 5 years, there will be many hours of great surfing to be done!

Challenge our Innovation Centre!

Innovation centre scoot seat

Innovation Centre’s Scoot seat

Can you challenge our Innovation Centre to design a product for your child?

The Innovation Centre brings together a team of designers to produce unique equipment for disabled children. They can help parents find suitable products or build completely new products which may not already be available.

The team at the Innovation Centre already has an impressive portfolio of products under their belt. Some of their more popular items include the Goto seat and the iPad case. Some more of their products can be viewed in the mini gallery below and on our website.

We recently received a lovely letter from a family who received one of the Innovation Centre’s iPad cases. The case went to nine year old Shaya who had already damaged several iPads because he did not have a case that was suitable for his needs. The Cerebra iPad case, which can be seen below was described as “Shaya proof” by his mum.

“We can’t thank you enough for the improvement to the quality of Shaya’s life.”

The Innovation Centre are always eager to hear from parents with their ideas for new products and that’s where you come in! If you have an idea for a product that you can’t find anywhere else or need a product adapted to meet your child’s needs, then get in touch! You can contact the team at cic@cerebra.org.uk or 01792 483688.