A mom of a child with cerebral palsy has invented a walking harness that gave her wheelchair-bound son a chance to walk like other children.
Debby Elnatan, a music therapist whose son Rotem has cerebral palsy, said the idea for a for the Firefly Upsee Harness came from her own ‘pain and desperation.’
“When my son was 2 years old, I was told by medical professionals that he didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them,” Elnatan recently told Daily Mail.
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"Best mail day ever!! Walt got his upsee today. The upsee is a mobility device that allows kids with motor impairments to be upright and walk with a little help from mom & dad. I'm so excited for Walt to have the opportunity for so many new experiences. "They are just little steps – but they mean the world to someone." Could not be more true! Thank you so much @fireflybyleckey ?" #fireflyupsee #upsee #specialneeds #participation #cerebralpalsy
The harness was designed to enable Rotem to stand upright and, by attaching it to herself, Ms. Elnatan and her son could take steps together.
The mother opted for an Irish company Leckey to mass produce the Upsee and make it available to other parents of physically disabled children. The families from all over the world have been trying out the device.
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" Frank’s Upsee arrived this week and he tried it for the first time with Daddy this morning and he LOVED it!!! He was walking up and down the hall and just staring at his feet in disbelief!! We bought a mirror in so he could see himself and he just got so excited!! I’m so grateful that there are companies such as Firefly that make these products. For us to see and for him to feel the movement of walking is just incredible ❤️"
“It is wonderful to see this product available to families across the world,” said Ms. Elnatan.
“When my son was two years old, I was told by medical professionals that ‘he didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them’.
The Upsee allows infants and small children to walk with the support of an adult. The harness attached with a belt worn by an adult.
Since 2012, designers, engineers, textile experts and therapists from Leckey’s Firefly team have been working on this project.
Maura McCrystal, mother of five-year-old Jack from Draperstown in Northern Ireland, has used the product.
“Last Sunday was a significant one for us as a family as it was the first time our son Jack was able to play football in the back garden with his dad, his brothers and our little dog Milly,” she said.
“To see Jack playing like any other five-year-old boy made me very emotional. Jack and his brothers so enjoyed it.”
Firefly’s clinical research manager and occupational therapist, Clare Canale, said: “Short-term, the Upsee improves special needs family participation and quality of life, while research suggests it has the potential to help with physical and emotional development in the longer term,” she said.
“It has been humbling to see the progress and happiness the Upsee is creating; watching children to do simple things for the first time such as kicking a ball or playing with a sibling is wonderful for everyone involved, but especially the families.”
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