The Inclusive Mobility team at the Inclusionaries Lab are collaborating with charities Duchenne UK (DMD UK) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy UK (SMA UK) on a £1.25M project to develop the ‘SMART Suit’ – a first of its kind exoskeleton suit to help young people living with neuromuscular diseases to use their upper body and give back their strength, independence and dignity.
When we lose the ability to walk, a wheelchair keeps us moving and independent, but no device currently exists to help when we lose the use of our arms. For people living with progressive conditions like DMD and SMA, losing upper body function means losing the ability to feed yourself, put your hand up in class, or hug your loved ones. For the past 50 years of Inclusive Mobility Design, there has been a lack of true innovation to address this problem which has left people living with upper-limb disability to face barriers in work, education, and social life – the SMART Suit aims to finally change this.
In 2022, the SMART Suit project was awarded a £1.25 million grant from the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund to support the research, design and development of a revolutionary assistive device to enhance upper body movement for children and young people living with progressive neuromuscular diseases.
We have partnered with leading organisations across industry, academia and charity sectors (Figure 1) as well as expert clinicians, therapists and an enthusiastic community of lived experience experts with progressive neuromuscular diseases. Our interdisciplinary and inclusive approach to the project aims to ensure advanced human-centred design principles are embedded in the Smart Suit, with the aim of changing the way that such assistive devices are described, perceived, defined, designed and delivered, to ultimately achieve transformative systemic impact.
Figure 1. Project partners
Transitioning Designerly Ways to Achieve Systems Change
How can we achieve the desired outcome for the design of the Smart Suit?
Starting with Designerly Investigations
How can narratives be used throughout the Smart Suit design process and beyond?
Initial interviews and observations with lived experience experts will be taking place from October 2022 until April 2023. This includes anyone with a NMD such as DMD or SMA, and their parents/carers – if you have such lived experience of upper body mobility loss and would like to find out more about opportunities to participate in the Smart Suit project research, please get in touch using the contact details below.
To find out more about this project, contact Dr Farnaz Nickpour email@example.com or Cara Shaw firstname.lastname@example.org
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