Upsee is an exciting new invention that helps disabled children feel what it’s like to walk. As the mother of a special needs toddler, I have seen the equipment that is currently available for teaching this important life skill to disabled children who have a difficult time controlling their own muscles. Standers are excellent for bearing weight on legs that are too weak to accomplish this feat without assistance, but they are stationary. Gait trainers, which are specialized supportive equipment similar to baby walkers, allow children the time and support to learn how to get their legs moving in a coordinated fashion. Both are highly effective in helping children realize the action of walking. Upsee, however, is on a completely different level, allowing kids to feel the flow and rhythm of actual walking.
Upsee is a supportive harness that a disabled child is strapped into, which then connects to the legs of an adult. As the adult walks, the child’s legs move along at the same time, giving them a real knowledge of how it feels to walk. The hands of the parents and children are free at all times, allowing them to walk naturally and unencumbered. This is a huge breakthrough for disabled children and their parents.
Not surprisingly, this device was invented by a mom of a disabled child. Debby Elnatan is an Israeli music therapist and mom to son, Rotem, who has cerebral palsy. After he was diagnosed, Debby began teaching him how to walk. “I started to walk him day after day, which was a very strenuous task for both of us,” she said.
She took her idea to Irish company Leckey for mass production. For the past three months, 20 families from around the world have been trialing the Upsee. ABC News interviewed one such mom, Stacy Warden, whose 5 year old son, Noah, has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and cannot crawl, sit, stand, walk or feed himself. She called the Upsee experience “life-changing”. Warden goes on to say, “He laughs and giggles, something he doesn’t do with other walking devices, which he sees as work. I am amazed at what this has done for both of us.”
This device is helping her disabled son learn to walk. Noah is now capable of performing many more movements than he could before. He bears weight on both legs and attempts natural walking motions. “For the first time we can do so many things as a family,” Stacy said.
My own son is three years old and, due to cerebral palsy and epilepsy, does not yet crawl, sit, or walk. Like Noah, he needs a device like this to teach him how to walk. My excitement level is through the roof as I wait to find out the cost and availability of this device. It will be offered by Firefly, a company that sells other supportive devices for disabled children. Pricing will be released on April 1, and the Upsee will go on sale on April 7.
This is the most unique and functional device on the market yet for teaching disabled children to walk. It promises excellent results, as well as great fun.
[Image via International Business Times]