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AI powers neural leg sleeve to help the mobility impaired
by Helen Hwang
Startup founder was on a mission to help daughter with cerebral palsy
In 2010, Jeremiah Robison’s daughter was diagnosed with cerebral palsy that impaired her motor skills and ability to walk. Frustrated by the lack of desirable solutions in the market, he quit his previous gig in 2018 and hunkered down in the garage to find a solution.
“It was clear to me that if not me, who, and if not now, when?” he said in a company video.
Four years later, Robison has an FDA-cleared product – a neural leg sleeve that works by signaling part of the brain responsible for sequencing gait and complex movements. His company, Cionic, partnered with fuseproject – led by visionary designer Yves Behar − to design a product that is comfortable and stylish and that looks more like sports apparel than a disability device.
The neural leg sleeve combines AI and electrical simulation to enhance mobility. Billed as a “comprehensive, full-spectrum neural solution,” the Cionic Neural Sleeve resembles a full-length flexible cast a patient might wear on the leg. The fabric is breathable and lightweight for comfort.
The neural sleeve enhances movement so people can walk and move around with less constriction. The mobility aid can help those suffering from neuromuscular ailments, such as patients recovering from stroke or spinal cord injuries. Individuals living with cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis can also use the sleeve to improve their gait and mobility.
Personalized algorithms evaluate a person’s gait pattern, and then activates functional electrical stimulation (FES) to engage specific muscles. Electrodes inside the sleeve receive software-controlled currents to activate the nodes. The stimulation is delivered to four major muscle groups: the hamstring, calf, shin, and quadriceps.
The neural sleeve can strengthen the leg, improve mobility, enhance range of motion, and boost comfort level.
Taking the sleeve on and off was a major consideration for the designers. Ease of use is important for individuals with limited mobility. Stroke survivors who have lost the use of one side of their bodies find it particularly challenging to don and doff mobility aids. The placement of the electrodes, sensors and wire bus was designed to fit all body types.