Tag Archives: CIC

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.

Independence for Myles with our Oxygem

Our creative team of designers at our Innovation Centre and our Oxygem recently helped Myles to become more independent. Myles’ mum Vickie tells us more – and take a look at  the great video at the end!

We are a family of 4 – me, my husband Neil, Noah who is 6 and Myles who is 2 1/2.  Myles was born a seemingly healthy full term baby boy. But he struggled to thrive and was always catching viruses, we seemed to be at the doctors every week. He developed pneumonia at the age of 5 months and was hospitalised. We were sent home with medication but over the next few weeks he deteriorated and ended up being taken into intensive care where he required ventilation.

It was thought that Myles would be able to be weaned off oxygen as he had suspected broncholitis. After weeks in hospital trying to wean him it was obvious something else was going on with his lungs. For the rest of the year he was in and out of hospital having investigations and surgery. They decided to do a gastrostemy for additional nutrition as growth was a vital part of his care. After a lung biopsy and genetic screen he was diagnosed with Surfactant Protein Deficiency Type C. This is a condition which results in the lack of tension in the alveolar sack minimising the surface area for gas exchange.

Myles has been dependent on oxygen ever since meaning he always has to have an adult with him to carry the oxygen cylinder. Myles has done amazingly well hitting his milestones albeit a little delayed. He has started going to nursery just a few hours a week so I wanted to try and find something that would give him a little more independence.

I spoke to our care teams but there didn’t seem to be anything available through the NHS or privately. I even started to look at portable concentrators as these are much lighter but unfortunately these work on a pulse flow rate. A child’s breath intake is not strong enough to trigger the release of oxygen so these are only suitable for adults.

Through searching the internet I came across Cerebra and your Innovation Centre. The Oxygem looked perfect for Myles as he’s strong enough to push a trolley and it would enable him to have a level of independence. We were so overwhelmed he was accepted to receive one of the prototypes. He took to it straight away and now enjoys walking round the park with it and walking on the school run.

Myles’ condition means that as he grows he will hopefully be able to have stints off the oxygen. But it’s during levels of activity that he really needs more. The Oxygem enables him to move around with the cylinder when he needs it most. He is due to start school September 2019 and I think the Oxygem will really allow him to integrate with his peers. The fact that the handles can be changed for longer ones as he grows is brilliant.

Watch Myles in action

Can our Innovation Centre help your family? Don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat.

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.

 

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.

Imogen’s Story

Imogen with mum Catherine

Imogen with mum Catherine

We are extremely excited to have been named Specsavers’ charity of the year for Wales this year. As part of this, we are looking at the stories of some of the families that we have helped in Wales.

Imogen Ashwell-Lewis, from Caldicot, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at birth. The condition severely limits movement in the six-year-old’s lower body. As Imogen turned two, her mum, Catherine, sought additional support to ensure her daughter had the best opportunity to develop, both physically and socially.

She came across the Cerebra Innovation Centre in Swansea, which creates bespoke products for children with neurological conditions, and immediately got in touch.

‘The team at the Innovation Centre were great,’ she says. ‘We discussed Imogen’s condition and her need for something that could help her movement. They were very accommodating and immediately started working on an adapted wheelchair to help her get around our home and, as she grew up, out in the garden and further afield.’

As Imogen got older, she returned to the Innovation Centre to have a larger wheelchair created. The team at Cerebra have also designed a bespoke seat, which Catherine can now easily fit to trolleys when she is shopping or in her car, so Imogen remains comfortable while away from their home.

‘Imogen has a really close relationship with the design team, who often invite us along so she can test new products they are developing,’ Catherine says. ‘It’s great to see a group of people committed to improving the lives of children like Imogen.

‘The fact that a name as recognised as Specsavers has pledged its support not only means additional vital funds for the charity and the Innovation Centre, but also much needed awareness about what they can do.

‘Day-to-day life would have been so much more difficult without the adaptations Cerebra designed for us. Before she had the wheelchair her movement was extremely limited, which in turn affected her cognitive development and ability to speak and play with other children. This couldn’t be further from the truth now – she’s a smart and social six-year-old who has been given the opportunity to do everything a child her age should be able to do.

‘If it wasn’t for Cerebra this would have never happened.’

You can find out more about our Specsavers partnership here.

Cerebra Innovation Centre’s Rocket Shelf Finds a New Home

Eve and her rocket shelf

Eve and her rocket shelf

The Cerebra Innovation Centre recently designed these rocket shelves. This cool piece of equipment was originally designed for a young boy, to help his mum who has to transport numerous medical machines whilst transferring him from room to room.

They were styled to suit a child’s bedroom and be more like a child’s toy rather than looking dull and medical. They feature 3 shelves, space to store an oxygen bottle, a 4 socket extension lead so all the machines are plugged in and you only need one wall socket, and 4 omnidirectional wheels so it can be moved around effortlessly. Additionally, there is ample space to wind wires and store bits and bobs.

Since the team at the Innovation Centre first started making the shelves, there have been many happy children and parents that have benefited from the design, including Eve. She and Dad Steven are currently testing out the rocket shelves and sent us these gorgeous pictures.

The rocket shelf

The rocket shelf

Steven said: “It’s amazing THANK you so much I will send more pictures as we go on amazing.”

Heidi and Tim also had a rocket shelf for their little one Charlotte, and we were so pleased when Heidi sent us in this lovely feedback.

Heidi says “The shelving unit is working out great for us and easily stores all her machinery and medical items, fitting well into the bedroom space.

The fact it is on wheels is great as we have to change her ventilators weekly which means needing easy access to the back of the machines which the wheels and open backing provides for”

Thank you to everyone for the wonderful feedback on our rocket shelves.

 

If our Innovation Centre can help you and your family just get in touch on cic@cerebra.org.uk.

We Launch #FamilyFriday!

The Cerebra Innovation Centre has helped lots of families with their designs over the years.

From items which have everyday applications such as the Oxy-gem and the GoTo Seat, to their larger projects such as the Surfboard and Triathlon equipment which have helped children like Poppy achieve their dreams.

We want to celebrate all of our fabulous families with our new social media campaign – #FamilyFriday! Every Friday we’re going to dedicate our newsfeeds across our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to all our families – whether you’ve been helped by the CIC or not.

We need your help! Share your positive pictures on any of our social media channels using the hashtags #FamilyFriday #CIC #CerebraInnovationCentre and we will post as many as as we can!

As well as celebrating the positivity of our community, we also want to highlight the great work that the team at the Innovation Centre does. Also they are always looking for new challenges so if you have an idea for a piece of equipment that would benefit your child, or have a problem that you think they may be able to come up with a solution for, please get in touch at cic@cerebra.org.uk.