Tag Archives: Cerebra Innovation Centre

Our Innovation Centre help Harry to throw a ball for his dog

Harry and Addi

A team of Product Designers from the Cerebra Innovation Centre – a partnership between the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Cerebra – has produced a specially adapted tennis ball shooter to enable a boy with cerebral palsy to throw a ball for his assistance dog.

Cerebra Innovation Centre, with help from ATiC – the University’s integrated research centre – developed the tennis ball shooter for Harry Flynn, 11, to help him bond with his dog Addi.

Eleven-year-old Harry has Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, which sadly means he has poor gross motor skills and is reliant on his wheelchair just to get around. Harry faces difficult challenges everyday but he’s able to live a happy life. He’s a budding musician and enjoys going to the cinema but when someone special came into his life two years ago, Harry soon had a new love. That someone was Addi, Harry’s assistance dog and best friend!

Addi, who came from the charity Dogs for Good, has been with Harry for two years. “He helps Harry by doing things like opening doors, opening drawers, turning light switches on and helping to remove socks and coats,” said Harry’s mum Hilary. “Most importantly he’s a constant friend and he encourages him to go outside, which, prior to having Addi, he never liked doing.

Addi’s a remarkable dog and a big part of Harry’s life. When he isn’t assisting, it’s important for Addi to have play time and they both love being outside together. Each time they were out on walks though, there was just something missing and Harry’s parents tried but couldn’t find the answer.

Harry and Addi

Harry’s mum, Hilary told us, “Harry so wanted to play fetch with Addi, who just loves to run after a ball. Sadly, though, Harry doesn’t have the strength or coordination to be able to throw. He loved being outside with Addi but you could see the disappointment on his face each time we went for a walk. I was so pleased, though, when I came across Cerebra and their wonderful Innovation Centre.”

The Cerebra Innovation Centre is home to a team of product designers and is based within UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art. The teams designs and builds innovative, bespoke products to help disabled children to discover the world around them. The products the team designs are desirable and exciting as well as functional, promoting social inclusion and peer acceptance for the children they help.

The team took a Nerf tennis shooter as their starting point and adapted it with 3D printed parts. Dr Ross Head of Cerebra Innovation Centre said he was pleased the team could create a piece of equipment that enabled Harry to reward Addi for his hard work.

“All Harry wants to be able to do is reciprocate and the only way he can do that is to throw a ball for his dog – but he doesn’t have the strength,” he said. “We were able to work with ATiC to get some really cool 3D printing done and create pieces that mean Harry doesn’t need dexterity to be able to pull a trigger.”

The team designed a bracket that could support the launcher and sit nicely on Harry’s wheelchair frame – not only that but the launcher’s firing mechanism had to be altered, so that all Harry had to do was lightly press it to release the ball.

Once the bracket was in place there was just one more surprise in store… putting Harry at the controls! While he could fire the launcher with no problem, Harry had to move his wheelchair each time he wanted to aim. The wheelchair had joystick controls so the team also added joystick controls to the launcher. Harry is now able to enjoy play time with Addi, repaying him for the assistance he gives on a daily basis. “He’s been a real help in my life,” said Harry.

The Innovation Centre is part of Cerebra, a charity supporting families who have a child with a brain condition, worked with ATiC, an integrated research centre at the university, to design and 3D print parts that make it possible for Harry to fire the shooter, and a joystick that enables him to point and aim the shooter.

Watch Harry and Addi in action:

CIC develop new sensory fish tank

CIC have developed a great new sensory fish tank. Fish are  great addition to a sensory experience, but are susceptible to the glass being banged and objects (mum’s car keys, TV remotes etc) being submerged!

This new tank from CIC comprises a stunning and tough external case which separates the fish from mischievous fingers. Additionally this tank can be secured to the table or side unit so that it can’t be tipped over. The tough lid is lockable to prevent experimental over feeding.

If you are interested in finding out how you can give a home to one of our fish tanks, please give the team a call to discuss your requirements! You can call them on 01792 483688 or email [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.

We won! Innovation Centre success

Dan, Ross and Gerallt at the St David Awards
Dan, Ross and Gerallt at the St David Awards

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC), a partnership between Cerebra and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), has won a prestigious award for Innovation, Science and Technology Award at the annual St David Awards ceremony organised by Welsh Government.

CIC is a team of engineers based within UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art. They design and build innovative, bespoke products to help disabled children to discover the world around them. Their designs are desirable and exciting as well as functional, promoting social inclusion and peer acceptance for the children they help. Products and advice are provided to families free of charge.

The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales and are nominated for by the public.  Now in their sixth year, the Awards offer the opportunity to celebrate the nation’s most inspiring and talented people, and to give them the national recognition they deserve.  The finalists and winners are decided upon by the First Minister of the Welsh Government and his advisers.  The winners of the nine St David Awards categories were announced at a special ceremony that took place in the Senedd in Cardiff on March 21st.

“The CIC team are so proud to have won the St David Award!” said Dr Ross Head, Product Design Manager, CIC.  “Our jobs give us so much satisfaction; to be able to help children access activities that most people take for granted is a great privilege but to be recognised nationally for our work is simply amazing. A huge thank you to all of the Cerebra staff and our supporters, without whom we would not be able to fund this work. We believe that, with a little bit of help, anything is possible – I hope that winning this award will pave the way to helping many more children across the UK.”

Tracy Elliot, Head of Research and Information at Cerebra added:  “We are delighted to have won the St David Award 2019 for Innovation, Science and Technology.  We believe passionately that the young people we support should be able to take part and participate fully in society.  We develop innovative and, above all, fun solutions to the problems and barriers parents raise with us.  Our designs aim to reduce some of the social stigma attached to disabilities by making not only functional but beautiful products that enable our young people to participate in activities that are too often closed to them.  We aim to demonstrate what can be achieved with the right attitude and support and hope that by winning this award some of our passion and belief will influence others.”

Ross and the team develop logical, innovative and fun solutions for children with brain conditions.  Their designs aim to reduce some of the social stigma attached to disabilities by making not only functional but also beautiful products for amazing young people. Some of their products are ‘one-off’ bespoke designs, others are made in small batches and some are designed with the commercial market in mind.

The ethos of CIC is simple – if they can dream big, they can do big. Never accept it’s not possible. The Team have designed lots of equipment to help children in disabilities participate in activities such as surfing, horse riding and even triathlons. Last Autumn CIC helped six-year-old Imogen, who has cerebral palsy, reach the top of south Wales’ highest mountain in a specially modified four wheeled mountain bike.

Imogen’s mum, Catherine, explained the difference the team have made to her family: “Imogen was so thrilled and excited to have completed the 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. We really are over the moon that CIC have won this Award.”

Professor Ian Walsh, Dean of UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art is extremely proud of the team, adding: “The University is delighted that the Cerebra Innovation Centre has won such a prestigious award. The innovative and inspirational work of the Centre has transformed countless lives over the past 15-years”.

If you have an idea for something that you think the team could help with, please get in touch at [email protected].

Cerebra Innovation Centre shortlisted for a St David Award

L - R: Gerallt, Tracy and Ross accept the St David Award nomination
L – R: Gerallt, Tracy and Ross

The Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC), a partnership between Cerebra and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), has been shortlisted for a prestigious St David Award.

CIC is a team of engineers based within UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art. They design and build innovative, bespoke products to help disabled children to discover the world around them. Their designs are desirable and exciting as well as functional, promoting social inclusion and peer acceptance for the children they help. Products and advice are provided to families free of charge.

The St David Awards are the national awards of Wales. The team have been nominated for the Innovation, Science and Technology category, which celebrates those who have developed techniques or solutions that meet new requirements.

The ethos of CIC is simple – if they can dream big, they can do big. Never accept it’s not possible. The Team have designed lots of equipment to help children in disabilities participate in activities such as surfing, horse riding and even triathlons. Last Autumn CIC helped six-year-old Imogen, who has cerebral palsy, reach the top of south Wales’ highest mountain in a specially modified four wheeled mountain bike.

Imogen’s mum, Catherine, explained the difference the team have made to her family: “Imogen was so thrilled and excited to have completed the 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. We really are over the moon that CIC have been shortlisted for this Award.”

Prof Ian Walsh, Dean of UWTSD Swansea College of Art said: “The University is delighted to hear that the Cerebra Innovation Centre has been shortlisted for such a prestigious award. The innovative and inspirational work of the Centre has transformed countless lives over the past 15-years”.

Dr Ross Head, Product Design Manager at the Cerebra Innovation Centre added: “It is such a privilege to be nominated for an award for doing a job that is so fun and rewarding to do anyway. I hope this will draw attention to our work so that we can continue to grow and help more children achieve more amazing dreams!”

The winners will be announced at the St David Award ceremony which takes place on 21st March.

Designing a better future for children with brain conditions with help from South Wales Freemasons

L - R: Marc Lewis (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Robert Payne (Charity Officer), Terry Osborn (Head of Income Generation at Cerebra) and Ross Head (Innovation Centre Designer and Developer)
L – R: Marc Lewis (Assistant Provincial Grand Master), Robert Payne (Charity Officer), Terry Osborn (Head of Income Generation at Cerebra) and Ross Head (Innovation Centre Designer and Developer)

Our Innovation Centre and the work they do to help children take part in and enjoy life alongside their friends has been given a boost, thanks to a generous donation of £38,749 by South Wales Freemasons.

One of the many ways we support children with brain conditions and their families is through our (CIC). At the CIC, a small team of innovators design and build bespoke products to help children overcome the challenges they inevitably face when taking part in activities that non-disabled children may take for granted.

The generous grant will contribute significantly to the salary costs for the Centre’s talented design team for one year, ensuring that the Centre can continue to make a difference to the lives of children across south Wales, and beyond.

Representatives from the South Wales Province visited the Cerebra Innovation Centre on Monday 28th January 2019 to learn more about the Centre’s innovative work and some of the children who will directly benefit from their support.

One of the children they met was two year old Amelie from Swansea who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Before Christmas the team made a Bouncer for Amelie which has made a huge difference to her daily life.  The Bouncer allows Amelie to move independently, something that she would otherwise be unable to do. She loves the swinging sensation and can enjoy this while the seating gives her all the postural support she needs. Mum Lucy explained that Amelie loves her Bouncer as it allows her to move on her own and have fun. The Bouncer also strengthens Amelie’s legs and core muscles so it’s great exercise for her too.

Amelie
Amelie

Ten year old Bailey is also from Swansea and has been enjoying the Spinning Pod that the Innovation Centre designed and made for him. Bailey has a life threatening brain condition, is blind and autistic. Bailey has a great love of music and really enjoys bouncing and spinning – so the new chair is perfect for him. In the chair Bailey feels safe and cocooned and can spin it himself which is great for his independence and also for him to self-soothe when he feels frustrated. His mum Charlie explained that that the chair is his new safe place and he spends a lot of time in it playing the piano and with his toys. She added that it’s ‘Bailey proof’ – very sturdy and unbreakable!

Staff and pupils from Ysgol Crug Las, a special needs school in Swansea taking pupils from ages 3 – 19, also attended the event.  Head teacher Clare Hobson explained that the school has a close and long standing relationship with the Innovation Centre.

Terry Osborn, Cerebra’s Head of Income Generation, said “We’re very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to help hundreds of young people with cerebral palsy, autism and similar conditions to enjoy everyday life in the same way as everyone else.”

Rob Payne from South Wales Freemasons, said:

“I’m delighted we’re able to support Cerebra, who do outstanding work helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community to have access to the same opportunities and lifestyle as the rest of us.”

You can find out more about the Cerebra Innovation Centre and view their whole product portfolio here.

CIC is a partnership project with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and is based within its Swansea College of Art.

Samuel discovers freedom with his Oxy-gem

Samuel and his oxy-gem
Samuel and his oxy-gem

Samuel’s mum Joceline recently contacted our Innovation Centre. As a member of a parent group on Facebook, she had seen how another child had benefited from our Oxy-gem. She knew that it would be perfect to help Samuel.

Three year-old Samuel has Down’s Syndrome and small airways disease. This means that he is on oxygen 24/7 and whilst he can walk, he could not carry the weight of his oxygen cylinder so his mobility was extremely restricted.

Joceline knew that the Oxy-gem could greatly improve Samuel’s independence and the Innovation Centre team were happy to help!

We sent Samuel one of our Oxy-gems in time for him to take it for a test drive around Blenheim Palace!

Joceline told us: ‘It was the first time he’d been able to participate on foot, rather than in his buggy.  You can see the excitement on his face.  The trolley went for a good 20 mins, on the path, on the grass, through the leaves….it was a life liberating day for him. He also uses it at school twice a week and it’s brilliant.  

Thank you so much for your help with this. I cannot begin to tell you how valuable the Oxygem is to us.  It has freed our son from the shackles of a buggy and helped him develop his independence and core strength and physical stamina.’

If you would like to find out how the Cerebra Innovation can help you, whether that’s with the Oxy-gem or if you have another challenge for the team, please get in touch! Email [email protected].

Making dreams come true this #GivingTuesday

#Giving Tuesday is on November 27th and this year we’re celebrating the amazing work our Innovation Centre do to help children achieve their dreams, however big or small. Children like Imogen, who we helped to achieve her dream of making it to the top of south Wales’ highest peak. You can help us make even more children’s dreams a reality. A gift from you, whether large or small, will make a positive difference to a young person’s life. You can either text WISH07 £5 to 70070 to donate £5, or use the form at the bottom of this page to donate online. Thank you.

Six year old Imogen was born with cerebral palsy and needs a wheelchair to get about. She often can’t take part in activities that her friends take for granted. She wasn’t even allowed to take part in her school sports day. Like most children her age Imogen is lively and adventurous and her inability to get involved makes her feel frustrated, sad and lonely.

At Cerebra, we don’t believe there is any challenge that can’t be overcome. When our friends at Specsavers arranged a sponsored walk to the top of Pen-y-Fan, we thought ‘let’s see if we can take Imogen with us’.

Help us work wonders for children this #GivingTuesday

Our Innovation centre adapted a special four-wheeled mountain bike and, with support from a team of volunteers, Imogen showed grit, determination and stamina to make it to the top. The smile on her face says it all.

With your help we can make more children's dream become a reality

With your help we can make more children’s dream become a reality

Imogen’s mum, Catherine told us: “Imogen is thrilled and excited to have had 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 given the opportunity to do things a child her age should be able to do is a real boost to her confidence and self-esteem. she really is over the moon.

If they can dream big, they can do big - never accept it's not possible!

If they can dream big, they can do big – never accept it’s not possible!

Imogen’s next dream? To become a Paralympian. Watch this space!

#GivingTuesday is on 27th November and you can follow our conversation on our social media – we will be using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #Cerebra. We would also love to hear if you will be taking part in any fundraising – be sure to tag us! Please help us to make even more children’s dreams come true this #GivingTuesday.
Text WISH07 £5 to 70070 to donate just £5.

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Photos by Dimitris Leakis/ Athena Pictures

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 [email protected] or give them a call on 01792 242688.

 

Here’s the journey from start to finish:

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.

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 [email protected].