Maturing exoskeleton for Duchenne

Lindsey Vermeer

Lindsey has designed an exoskeleton that can mature with Duchenne boys between the ages of 10 and 17, to grow with them both physically and emotionally at different ages.

Duchenne boys have progressive muscle wasting and lose the ability to walk by the age of 10. This loss of muscle strength leads to a loss of independence and quality of life. An exoskeleton has been developed by Yumen Bionics to support their arm function, but it is not yet mature enough to adapt to the changing physical and emotional needs of the user.

In order to understand the requirements needed to achieve the design goal, both the physical and emotional needs of Duchenne boys are explored through a literature review and user research. First, the current exoskeleton is analysed and the phases of the disease are mapped, taking into account the emotional aspects. A context mapping session was conducted with the target group, resulting in three different personas. The whole research phase was concluded in a journey map from 10-17 years, including physical and emotional needs, desires and beliefs.

The solution is an enhanced exoskeleton with the added functionality of controlling devices in the user’s home through movement. An interface with a coding platform that allows the user to decide which devices to control with which movements, and a communication platform to ask questions and share experiences. A service where an expert regularly checks the exoskeleton’s hardware (physical fit and support) and software (control functionality) is also included.

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