Tag Archives: Innovation centre

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.

Tom’s writing slope makes him the envy of his classmates

Our Innovation Centre team recently helped a young boy with his writing skills – and made him the envy of his classmates.

Tom’s mum Claire recently approached the Cerebra Innovation Centre after seeing a post about one of their products, the Doodle on our Facebook page.

She had been looking for some time for a writing slope which would suit the needs of her son, nine year-old Tom who as well as being diagnosed with sensory processing disorder and Autism, also has hypermobility in his arms.

This meant that when Tom was learning to write, he was curling himself around the desk. At first, it was thought that this was because he is left handed and was finding it difficult to get the correct position to be able to write with his left hand.

One of Tom’s occupational therapists suggested getting him a writing slope to help with his posture while he was writing, but the first one that they tried slid while Tom was trying to use it.

Then Claire saw a post on our Facebook page about the Doodle, a writing slope designed by the team at our Innovation Centre.

The Doodle was developed for any child who may need a writing slope to aid their writing, drawing, posture and hand control. We have used magnets and a gas strut for quick removal and changing of the ingenious paper and book holding rulers, whilst including a set of pens stored in an inventive swivelling holder to aid children with reduced motor skills. We believe these innovative features make it the best and most beautiful writing slope available anywhere.

With a few adjustments to the design to make it suitable for the left handed Tom, it was ready and they haven’t looked back!

Tom has been taking his new writing slope in to school and it has made him the envy of his class mates! Claire said:

I think his face says it all in these pictures! He took it school today and his whole class were super impressed with it. I have never seen boys so excited by a hydraulic lid! Usually he hates going to school, but he was excited to show off the Doodle today!

Can the Cerebra Innovation Centre help you? We’d love to hear from you.

Running, cycling and donuts!

Ross Head sneaking a donut

Ross Head sneaking a donut

The Cerebra Innovation Team are officially 5 weeks away from competing in the Swansea Triathlon 2018, with Captain Imogen to lead the team.

Their intense training regime, consists of the three P’s: purpose, progress and protein. It’s all about the green machine smoothies, intense hours of cardio and… donuts? But at least the team are getting some cardio in!

They are training hard to make sure they keep up with Captain Imogen, who, although she’s only 6 is keeping her team on their toes.

The shark of the team is Dan Cuthbertson, who will swim Imogen to victory. Dan is a seasoned surfer who won’t be defeated by anything in the water.

Gerallt getting a bit lost

Gerallt getting a bit lost

The team’s resident biker, Gerallt Devonald, is training hard to smash the cycle course, map in hand, water bottle at the ready, Gerallt will be towing Captain Imogen to triumph – if he can find his way!

Then there’s Dr Ross Head and, even though he’s eating quite a lot of donuts, he is training hard to pick up the running segment of the triathlon. Ross is smashing the evening runs and even includes a lunch time run to channel his inner Mo Farah for the day.

Captain Imogen

Captain Imogen

We would also like to say, a huge welcome and thank you to our new team mate Carol Evans, who is joining us from our wonderful charity partnership with Specsavers this year. Carol competed in two triathlons last year and the triathlon bug bit!

If you’d like to support the team you can make a donation by texting CICT18 and the amount you would like to give to 70070, or by visiting the team’s Just Giving page. All the funds raised will help our innovation center to keep coming up with bright ideas for brilliant kids. 

We are coming for you Swansea Tri!

Captain Imogen and her brave triathlon crew!

Captain Imogen

Captain Imogen

The Cerebra Innovation Centre design team will be embarking on a triathlon adventure this year with their very own triathlon pilot, Imogen Ashwell-Lewis, in charge! Their first target is the Swansea triathlon on 20th May.

The team met Imogen a few years ago when they designed and made a beautiful tiny wheelchair that allowed her to move around her home and play with her brothers and her toys. The additional independence it gave her was amazing, as was the friendship they developed with Imogen and her family.

Now 6 years old and having been turned away from many sports due to her cerebral palsy,  Imogen leapt at the chance to pilot the CIC crew.

While the Innovation Centre team have learned lots about triathlons through designing and making the equipment for Poppy a couple of years ago, they’ve never actually competed in one! So this will be a chance for them to put their own equipment to use.

The bright idea came from Ross Head: “When we thought about finding a triathlete/pilot for this year, I just mentioned that maybe we should start a team and the guys agreed – which I had not expected! That was the day Team Cerebra was born!

“Dan is a strong swimmer and surfer so it made sense that he would swim and tow Captain Imogen in the boat. Gerallt loves cycling and is keen to tow Imogen to victory. Of all the sports I do, running is not one of them. So I’ve taken one for the team and am learning to run, training on the streets where I live until I am fit enough to venture further afield”.

The Innovation Centre Team

The Innovation Centre Team

“I am super excited to dust off my speedo’s and swim with Imogen and the team. But I need to get practicing as my swimming skills have been replaced with a belly. To the pool I go! We’re really looking forward to it, and I think we stand a good chance at winning!” (Designer Dan)

We’re looking forward to following them on their journey to glory and hope that Imogen knows what she’s letting herself in for!

If you would like to show your support to the team, you can donate by texting CICT18 and the amount you would like to donate to 70070 e.g. CICT18 £5 to 70070, or by visiting their Just Giving page.

Richard Mylan presents BBC Radio 4 Appeal

Our BBC Radio 4 Appeal, presented by actor Richard Mylan, was broadcast on 27th and 31st August. If you missed it you can still listen to it below:

Please note that you are no longer able to make a donation through the BBC but if you would like to support our Appeal you can give now either online or by calling us on 01267 244221. Thank you.

 

Bright Ideas for Brilliant Kids

Playing with friends, days out with your family, exploring the world around you. It’s all a normal part of growing up. But for children with brain conditions these things which seem so simple and natural can be difficult, even impossible. Sometimes children need specialist equipment to help them join in with life.

At Cerebra we believe that any challenge can be overcome. We provide specialist equipment to make life easier and more enjoyable for children with brain conditions, giving them the same opportunities other children have to live an ordinary life. Just take a look at some of the great work that our Innovation Centre does. 

Independence for Charlie

Charlie on his trike

Charlie on his trike

Charlie, whose story you can hear in the Appeal, is a great example of how we help children discover life and enjoy themselves. Charlie’s trike gives him the chance to be independent and have fun with his family and friends. He’s at the heart of the action and his days are filled with adventure. Since receiving his new trike Charlie hasn’t looked back!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Mylan – our Radio 4 Appeal Presenter

Richard Mylan about to record the BBC Radio 4 Appeal at Broadcasting House

Richard Mylan at BBC Broadcasting House

Richard has appeared in many popular series and is best known for playing deputy head teacher Simon Lowsley in the BBC1 series Waterloo Road. Richard and his son Jaco were also the stars of an intimate documentary which aired on BBC One Wales – Richard and Jaco: Life With Autism. When Jaco was diagnosed as autistic, Richard was thrown into personal turmoil. He had to re-think his hopes and dreams for his son when he was just four years old. Now Jaco is 11, Richard’s biggest concern is what the future holds for him.

You can listen to why Richard is supporting us by clicking the link below.

 

Thank you for your support. Together we can help families of children with brain injuries discover a better life together.

 

Watch Charlie enjoying his trike:

 

Holly’s Rocking Dinosaur!

Holly and her rocking dinosaur

Holly and her rocking dinosaur

Liz and Jim are parents to 15 month old Holly and they recently contacted the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) with a challenge to complete in time for their daughter’s first birthday. They told us their story:

“We contacted the Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) after realising the first birthday present we had bought for our daughter, when she was just a month old, was completely inappropriate. Holly loves rocking and we really wanted to get her a rocking animal for her first birthday and we found a dinosaur. The problem was that it was unlikely Holly would ever be able to use it as it had no harness or support.

Holly has a rare chromosome disorder. She has duplications on 2q24.2 and 2q24.3. This manifests as Holly having hypotonia, global developmental delay, visual impairment, Sandifer Syndrome and food allergies. She is at a high risk of developing autism and epilepsy but we are lucky that she seems to be ok at the moment. As Holly has hypotonia her core is very weak and so she struggles to sit unsupported.

Holly is a really happy, wonderful little person and we wanted her to be able to enjoy her rocking dinosaur. We approached Ross and the team at the CIC to see if it would be possible to convert her toy so she can enjoy it safely, as it is one of the few toys she has that is just for her to have fun and enjoy being a little girl. They rose to the challenge beautifully and added pieces to it so that we could attach the Firefly GoTo seat, which would keep her safe.

Holly loves her dinosaur, she can make it rock by herself and she is independent.  We are so grateful to Cerebra for making this possible for Holly. It even arrived back in time for her first birthday!”

If you have an idea for a piece of equipment that you would like the CIC team to build, you can get in touch with them at cic@cerebra.org.uk or 01792 483688.

 

Can’t find a riding helmet to fit your child?

We introduce the newest member of our Innovation Centre and would love to hear from you if your child would like to try horsey activities but you can’t find a helmet to fit.

New team member

Maria Kemys

Maria Kemeys

“Hi all, my name is Maria Kemeys. I am the newest member of the CIC team as their new Business Development Officer. I am a recent graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration and have a massive passion for working with a charity who contributes to changes that impact and better a child’s life. I am delighted to have been offered the position to work alongside the team in the Cerebra Innovation Centre where innovative and life changing work is being carried out every day to help children in unique situations. I am looking forward to working as part of the CIC to develop new and existing projects for families and children, helping to them to enjoy life together.

Can’t find a riding helmet to fit your child?

Tommy Lee wearing his helmet

Tommy Lee wearing his helmet

You may remember that in 2016 we were approached by a school on behalf of young man called Tommy Lee. Tommy Lee was unable to participate in their weekly horse riding sessions as the riding centre did not have a helmet that would fit Tommy Lee’s unique head shape.

Our Innovation Team worked hard to design and make a bespoke riding helmet that meant Tommy Lee could take part in riding lessons with his friends. The helmet was not only comfortable but safe and certified by the British Standard Institute (BSI).

Thanks to a donation from Mr and Mrs Coventry at Claire’s Project our team are now able to develop more of these equestrian helmets. So if your child loves horses and would love to try equestrian hobbies but can’t participate because of the standard helmet size,  then please get in touch to find out more.

You can contact the team on cic@cerebra.org.uk or call 01792 483688

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:

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!