Category Archives: CIC

Soaring high

Our Innovation Centre are proud to make products that help disabled children to enjoy and experience life alongside their friends. Sometimes the most simple of things make the biggest difference.

Owen’s mum got in touch for some help. Owen loves to join his friends on the swings in the park but sometimes forgets to hold on. Our team at CIC simply converted a climbing harness to fit Owen and to clip onto the swing’s chains, keeping him safe as he soars.

A simple job but one that has made a huge difference to young Owen’s life.

Watch Owen in action

If we can help you with an everyday problem, however big or small, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us on cic@cerebra.org.uk.

CIC come up with clever 3D printed solution

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) were recently asked for help with a small project, which really emphasises the usefulness of 3D printing and the computer age when trying to solve tricky little problems.

Going back only 6 or 7 years, this problem would have required meeting face to face, taking measurements, a day or two in the workshop and returning to fit the product; now with a photo and a few clicks of a mouse, CIC were able to produce a product in record time!

Bryher Hill, an occupational therapist in South Wales emailed CIC to ask for help. A cheeky young lad on her case load kept switching his wheelchair’s dual controls off so that he could override his helper.

Bryher explains: “I have always been aware of the CIC but haven’t needed to ask for their help until now!  I attended a wheelchair assessment for a young child that we work with and we found that he would try to turn the wheelchair power off whilst his carer was driving the wheelchair as it had dual controls.  I was concerned that if he were to do this in the middle of a road crossing or similar, it would be dangerous, so decided to ask CIC if they could design a cover for the control unit.  I took a couple of photos and some quick measurements at the wheelchair handover and sent them over to CIC.  They did the rest; for free! Ross’ skill and communication have been fantastic, and I am in awe of 3D printers and what they can do.  Thanks for your help.”

Bryher cleverly took some photos of the control unit- plan, side and quarter views, and drew a quick sketch of the unit including the outline dimensions. This was enough for the CIC designers to set to work. Using their high tech computer aided design (CAD) software called Solidworks, they generated a model of a part which could cover the control unit sufficiently that our cheeky young client could not switch it back on, but which was quick and easy to pop on and remove without causing any damage.

As if this was not high tech enough, with a few clicks of a mouse, the model was sent to another software package to prepare it for 3D printing, which in turn was wirelessly sent to the Ultimaker 3D Printer. 3D printers are able to make plastic parts and components by melting a thin filament of plastic which is fed into the machine, and a print head deposits the plastic in place according the model file that is uploaded. This machine was very kindly donated to CIC by Mr and Mrs Coventry who run Claire’s Project. The printer has seen hundreds of hours of use and has made some amazing parts which have helped children across the UK live their lives with a little more comfort -and fun!

If you have an idea that you think the team at the Innovation Centre would be able to help with, please get in touch! You can email them on cic@cerebra.org.uk or give them a call on 01792 242688.

 

Here’s the journey from start to finish:

Cerebra surfboard goes global

The surfboard designed by our Innovation Centre especially so that disabled children can experience the thrill of the ocean, is making waves on the other side of the world in Japan.

The team at CIC designed the surfboard in partnership with Roger Cooper for children with limited mobility and brain conditions. It allows wheelchair-bound adrenaline junkies to get out of their chairs and onto the water. The tandem design includes a supportive seat for the child and plenty of space on the back for an experienced surfer to steer it in the right direction. They have been a great success providing endless hours of fun to thrill-seeking children who could not otherwise experience the benefits and thrill of catching waves.

Following its successful launch in 2016 the board has been popular across the UK, and now, the world. Cartan McLaughlin, an Irishman living in Japan, bought a Cerebra Surfboard for his own organisation called Sean’s Club. Sean, Cartan’s son, is 10 years old and has Down’s Syndrome and Sean’s Club is dedicated to helping children with Down Syndrome reach their full potential.

They have just held a launch event on Tatadohama Beach in Shimoda, Japan which was a huge success. Cartan McLaughlin said: “It was amazing! A brilliant day. Can I get another board? Many Thanks to the Cerebra Team and especially to Dr. Ross Head – Associate Professor at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD)”.

Dr Ross Head explains that the surfboard is essentially a very large, purpose designed and built board, 12ft long, 30 inches wide and 6 inches deep. This gives it the flotation and stability required for the bucket seat to be positioned on top. The seat is attached via an adjustable laser-cut aluminium wedge which allows the seat to be positioned and angled correctly. This can be altered on the beach between users; the heavier the user, the further back the seat can slide to enable the board to glide smoothly at the correct angle.

To date there are Cerebra Surfboards in Aberavon and Caswell in south Wales, Cornwall, and the Isle of Wight with The Wave Project, one in Larne in Northern Ireland, and now one in Japan. Cartan plans to add another two boards this year, and five in 2019.

Dr Head commented:  “We are so happy and so proud that our surfboard has brought happiness to another bunch of children and to be so far away on such a beautiful sandy beach in Japan adds a magical element to the story. The surfboards are a real work of art and very time consuming to build by the whole team, including Roger Cooper who shapes the board itself. Cartan has already asked if he can order another!”

The team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre are dedicated to designing and making bespoke products that enrich a child’s life, giving them new experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. If you have a challenge for them, get in touch at cic@cerebra.org.uk.

Eleven year old Alex rides the waves on a surfboard designed by our Innovation Centre

Alex having a great time surfing at The Wave Project

The team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre are dedicated to designing and making bespoke products that enrich a child’s life, giving them new experiences that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

Created in partnership with Roger Cooper, our surfboard was designed for children with limited mobility and brain conditions. It allows wheelchair-bound adrenaline junkies to get out of their chairs and onto the water. The tandem design includes a supportive seat for the child and plenty of space on the back for an experienced surfer to steer it in the right direction. They have been a great success providing endless hours of fun to thrill-seeking children who could not otherwise experience the benefits and thrill of catching waves.

The latest to try one of the boards was 11 year old Alex who has quadriplegic athetoid cerebral palsy. Alex is from Eastleigh in Hampshire and was on holiday with her family in south Wales when she took part in a session organised by The Wave Project.

Following Alex’s session her mum Charlene told us: “Thank you so much.  Alex absolutely loved it and even asked if we could move to South Wales so she could surf more often. The photos of the day are amazing and, to be honest, brought a little tear to her eye. To watch her take part in something we thought she would never be able to access is just incredible and we really cannot thank you all enough.”

The Wave Project brings people together through surfing. Their evidence-based surf therapy programme is proven to help young people feel less anxious and more positive. They also run beach school projects to help children feel more engaged in education. Working with partner organisations and some amazing volunteers they are changing lives together.

Holly Sayce, South Wales Coordinator at The Wave Project said: “The boards have been essential to us as a charity in making our service fully inclusive of all abilities and disabilities. Used alongside our beach wheelchairs we can offer young people with mobility issues the chance to participate in our surf therapy courses or one-off private sessions.

The board most recently given to our Cymru project by Cerebra was used during our summer sessions and even on a chilly day at Aberavon beach just last week. We are looking forward to our next surf therapy year starting in Spring 2019 to see even more young people use the board and take part in our sessions.

Kindly stored by one of our partner surf schools, we are able to take the board to both of our delivery locations at Aberavon and Porthcawl. We now have three amazing Cerebra boards across our UK projects allowing young people in many locations to access surf therapy and experience the many benefits.

We are super grateful to Cerebra for this amazing piece of kit and for their determination and enthusiasm around improving accessibility for children and young people.”

Families where a child has a brain condition face challenges every day. Just to learn, play, make friends, enjoy and experience the world can feel difficult, even impossible.  At Cerebra we believe that every challenge can be overcome.

Our Innovation Centre is a partnership project with the University of Wales Trinity St David.

Caldicot girl with cerebral palsy climbs South Wales’ highest peak

Specsavers directors, team members and Cerebra staff with Imogen at the Pen y Fan summit

Specsavers directors, team members and Cerebra staff with Imogen at the Pen y Fan summit

Six year old Imogen Ashwell-Lewis, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, reached the top of South Wales’ highest peak on Sunday 7 October in a specially-modified four-wheeled mountain bike.

She was joined by more than 40 people – including Specsavers staff from South and Mid Wales, charity workers and even army soldiers – some of whom were harnessed to her to help pull and push her along.

Imogen’s mum, Catherine, says: ‘Imogen is so thrilled and excited to have completed this climb. It’s only thanks to the team at Cerebra that she’s been able to have this adventure – she’s never been able to do anything like this before because of her cerebral palsy. There have been so many times that she hasn’t been able to join in with physical activities which leaves her feeling left out. Being able to do things like this is a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem. She really is over the moon.’

The Pen y Fan challenge was co-organised by Cerebra and staff at Specsavers stores in South and Mid Wales, as part of their year-long charity partnership. The opticians are raising funds for the Carmarthen-headquartered charity, which currently supports 4,500 families across Wales.

Neil Robinson, West Wales regional chair for Specsavers, says: ‘Imogen and her family are an inspiration to us all, as are the services and support Cerebra provides to them and many other families across Wales. Watching Imogen complete this challenge is something I won’t forget in a hurry. I’m proud of our staff for giving up their time to help Imogen and the charity achieve something wonderful.

Everyone who took part at the top of Pen y Fan

Everyone who took part at the top of Pen y Fan

‘I’m thrilled we have been able to help raise awareness of the charity’s work, and hope it will lead to more young children with brain conditions discovering ways to live a better life with their families.’

In addition to our support services and research work, we also have an Innovation Centre based within the University of Wales Trinity St David, where bespoke equipment is designed and created, free of charge, to make children’s lives easier.

Imogen’s bike was a specially-modified four wheeled downhill mountain bike, designed and made predominantly for use by disabled people. It was created by Calvin Williams of Project ENDURO – a collaboration between experts at Swansea University, Gower College Swansea and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Project ENDURO kindly loaned the bike to Imogen for the climb and designers at our Innovation Centre made modifications to give Imogen the support she needed. Project ENDURO was supported by AgorIP, based at Swansea University’s School of Management, who are part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Terry Osborn, acting Head of Corporates, Trusts and Legacies at Cerebra, says: ‘We’re delighted to have joined the Specsavers team for the Pen y Fan climb. To be able to take Imogen with is us was a privilege and really does demonstrate that we don’t believe there is any challenge that can’t be overcome.

‘The invaluable fundraising support from Specsavers means that our Innovation Centre will be able to help more children to overcome their challenges and discover the world around them.’

This video shows Imogen reaching the top of Pen y Fan:

 

Innovation Centre’s spinning pod a big hit with Curtis

Curtis and his spinning pod

Curtis and his spinning pod

Louise recently contacted our Innovation Centre after seeing a post on our Facebook page about the spinning pod chairs that the team had created. She knew one would be perfect for her son, 11 year old Curtis who has Charge Syndrome. She told us their story.

Curtis has Charge Syndrome which affects him in lots of different ways. It affects his development, meaning that he can’t walk and talk and he also has many sensory issues. He is partially sighted and has a cochlea implant because he is partially deaf. He is unable to tell where his body is in space and because of this, he has balance issues.

Longer term, Curtis has heart and lung problems and is on long term ventilation after needing a tracheotomy. He has night carers who have been a big help as Curtis isn’t a good sleeper, although he goes through patterns with his sleep and it has been helped with medication.

Curtis craves constant sensory input which means that he often gets frustrated and can lash out. His 4 year old brother Oscar is great with Curtis but it can be difficult for him, especially if Curtis is having a bad day.

Oscar enjoyed the box

Oscar enjoyed the box

For a while now, I have been looking for something to help Curtis to feel more grounded. We had a very old spinning chair that Curtis would spin on all day if he could because he doesn’t get dizzy but as he was getting older, the chair was getting less safe for him to use and I was worried it would break. Then I saw pictures of the spinning pod chair that the Cerebra Innovation Centre had created on Facebook and knew it would be perfect for Curtis!

I contacted the team and the day the chair arrived, Curtis was absolutely over the moon with it! Oscar even loved the box that it came in! The pod now makes up an important part of Curtis’ day. He can touch the floor and spin himself which gives him some independence and it also grounds him so the benefits have been huge.

The Innovation Centre have been great. A lot of things are designed for younger children and often there’s not a lot available for older children but they helped to fill in the gaps. There are so many challenges we face and it’s nice to know there’s someone there to help.

You can find out more information about the Cerebra Innovation Centre on our website. If you would like to find out how you can get a spinning pod like Curtis’s, contact the team at cic@cerebra.org.uk.

Our innovation team design the Boccia ramp of the future

Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald, Paralympic champion David Smith and Welsh champion Richard Bachelor with our new boccia rampThe CIC team have been working hard to create a high tech Boccia Ramp. Boccia is a ball sport, similar to bowls, for people with severe physical disabilities.

The guys were challenged by a young man in Bristol who wanted to have more independence in the game. They took up the challenge and have created a ramp that will enable almost anyone to play, no matter the severity of their condition! Almost any ability to move any part of your body will allow you to play Boccia with a lot more independence due to the unique electronics and controlling devices the team have made.

Boccia players in the BC3 category ordinarily require an assistant to place the ball on the ramp at the required height, aim the ramp left and right according their directions and then they can launch the ball into play using a head pointer. Well now, the assistant merely has to pop the ball on the ramp, and using the super high tech controlling devices, the player can raise and lower the ball, aim left and right and shoot the ball.

Whilst not being fully integrated with the rules and regulations just yet, the team are working with the amazing Paralympic Champion, World Champion, and joint most successful UK player ever, David Smith MBE, to perfect the design and technology to ensure that the Boccia ramp of the future is a smashing hit!

Here are the design team’s Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald with David Smith and Richard Bachelor (Welsh Champion) who kindly gave up some of their training session to help us.

Daniel Cuthbertson and Gerallt Devonald, Paralympic champion David Smith and Welsh champion Richard Bachelor with our new boccia ramp

Do you have a project for the team at CIC? If so, get in touch on cic@cerebra.org.uk or 01792 783688.

Innovation Centre help Livia gain independence

Mum Alanah recently approached our Innovation Centre with a challenge that would help maintain her daughter’s independence while keeping the whole family safe on shopping trips.

We received Livia’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy just after she turned 2, and when I was 8 months pregnant with my second child. Suddenly the logistics of looking after two children had become more involved. I knew Livia was struggling to walk, but I thought that after a bit of help she’d learn and would be running alongside the newborn’s pram or riding on a buggy board.

Initially after our second’s arrival things were pretty straight forward. Livia continued to ride in her stroller and the second was carried in a sling. When Livia did want to get out and walk she would hold onto the back of the stroller to steady herself and help me push that along. This resulted in lots of tripping and falls and was frustrating for all of us.

When our second was 4 months old Livia’s Kaye walker arrived. This was very exciting and gave us a step up in our independence and ease of getting around. Livia was willing to take short journeys with it, which was great when popping into shops that we could park outside or walking into the park from the car, or visiting a friends house. But anything further than a few minute walk was daunting for her and time restrictive for me. So the pushchair came back out, but how was I going to carry a newborn, push a stroller and bring her Kaye walker should she want to walk?

I felt terribly guilty if I didn’t bring her walker along. I felt I was stopping her from being independent when all of her friends and others her age were up and running freely. I purchased a tandem double pushchair and intended to carry the walker. We did one trip like this, ouch! My shoulder was so sore from where it had dug into me that it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be an option. So I went back to carrying the baby and slotted the walker onto the back seat of the pushchair.

Now the newborn was getting heavier and spending a lot of time ‘bouncing’ in the carrier. I’m not the biggest built person either, so carrying her everyday whilst pushing a toddler, all of the essentials you need and a Kaye walker was getting really tricky. There was also the challenge of when it rains or is really sunny. I don’t have a rain cover for the baby  carrier and we all know how hard it is encourage a baby to keep a sun hat on, so I really needed her to go back into the pushchair. I am part of a cerebral palsy support group on Facebook, so I posted on there asking other mums what they do. A lady responded telling me to give Cerebra a call.

I spoke to Ross Head in the Innovation Centre and explained my predicament. He told me he’d made a back carrier for someone before. He took the walker size and said it’d be with me in a few weeks. About 5 weeks later he emailed to say the carrier was on its way and how to use it. I am absolutely delighted with it. Ross took a standard backpack and added some straps and metal hooks to it. The walker hooks over the top and is secured in place by some bungee cords. At the bottom he has added some velcro straps that secure the walker from bouncing around when I walk. Once strapped in place it’s hardly any weight at all. I now can keep both the children in the shade or out of the rain, they can snack and play with toys whilst I get us all to our destination with relative ease.

I am now racking my brains of how to challenge Ross further, what else isn’t on the market that could help make my family life easier…? I hope my story gives someone the knowledge to give Ross a call and talk through your dilemma. He’s a wizard! Thank you Ross and Cerebra.

If you have a challenge that you think the team at the Cerebra Innovation Centre can help with, get in touch! You can contact them via email at cic@cerebra.org.uk or by phone on 01792 483688.

Team Imogen smash the Swansea triathlon

Swansea tri group

The whole team

The 2018 UWTSD Swansea Triathlon has come and gone for another year, but for Team Imogen this has been an incredible start to our adventures in 2018!

Six-year-old Imogen Ashwell-Lewis, who has cerebral palsy, captained the charity team with a difference. She was supported around the course by a team consisting of the three designers from our Innovation Centre which is based in Swansea.

The day got off to an incredible start with our resident swimmer, Dan Cuthbertson taking the lead on the swim. This led on to the bike ride where Gerallt Devonald towed Imogen in style. Lastly Dr Ross Head smashed the last leg of the course and ran with Imogen to the finish. The race ended with the whole team joining Ross and Imogen to cross the finish line – full of smiles!

Imogeen in the boat

Imogeen in the boat

Dr Ross Head said, “ I am so happy to be able to say that we completed the Swansea Triathlon as team Imogen! I could not be more proud of the team and our Captain Imogen. She was an absolute star. She was so happy and waved and said hello to everyone all the way round! It is great to have been able to showcase the work we do in front of so many people. The organisers, the spectators and the other athletes were so supportive. I would really like to thank them all; they made a special day. Look out for us in future events- we are hooked and will be back.”

We would like to thank the filming crew from RS Components who followed our story, the incredible friends and family who supported us throughout the course, the organisers who put on such an incredible event and of course, Cerebra’s little super star Imogen who was amazing all day.

This is the start of our Triathlon Journey 2018 – Up next, the Superhero Series 2018!

You can show your support for team Imogen and their efforts through their Just Giving page. If you would like to find out more about the Superhero Series, get in touch with the team at cic@cerebra.org.uk. We’re also looking for families to join us as part of the Superhero Series so please get in touch!

Creating the Urdd Eisteddfod Crown

Daniel Cuthbertson, who is a designer at the Cerebra Innovation Centre, has created the crown for this year’s Brecon and Radnorshire Urdd Eisteddfod

Pupils from Builth Wells High School designed the crown and took their inspiration from their local area – its history and its legends.  Once the pupils had agreed the final design, it was then sent to Dan who had eight weeks to create the finished crown.

The request to create the crown came via Dan’s sister, Sarah Cuthbertson who teaches Technology at the school. Dan was delighted to have the opportunity to create the piece and was pleased to be working with the talented pupils.

Using a host of natural materials – brass, copper, silver and oak – Dan brought the design to life and created the stunning crown that will be awarded to the winner of one of the Eisteddfod’s main literary competitions during the week-long youth festival.

“It’s been an honour for me to create the Urdd Eisteddfod crown this year,” says Dan who lives in Swansea.”It was also a privilege to realise the design and concept of the pupils from Builth Wells High School. Their design challenged me to work with new materials and also motivated me to use new techniques. It’s great to see the crown now completed and I look forward to seeing it being awarded the winner of the competition during the ceremony at the Eisteddfod.”

Dan has worked for the Cerebra Innovation Centre within the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for over six years now. As UWTSD Product Design graduate, Dan loves to use his skills to create equipment for children with brain conditions.

“I am very grateful to Cerebra for giving me the opportunity to be released from my daily work to create this year’s Urdd Eisteddfod crown. I would also like to thank the University for its support and for having the opportunity to use the great equipment we have at the workshops within the University’s Alex building in Swansea. “It has been a huge pleasure to work with a group of enthusiastic pupils and to have had the opportunity to bring their beautiful design to life,” he adds.

The Brecon and Radnorshire Urdd Eisteddfod will be held on the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, 28 May – 2 June. The crowning ceremony takes place on Friday, 1 June.