Wilmington, Delaware - Nemours Biomedical Research's Office of Technology Transfer has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with JAECO Orthopedic Inc. (Hot Springs, Arkansas) to begin commercial development of the Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton (WREX).
The WREX was designed by a team led by Tariq Rahman, PhD, Head, Nemours Pediatric Engineering Research Lab at the Nemours/Alfred I duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del.
It is essentially a robotic arm that assists the elbow to bend and the hand to move in opposition to gravity. The WREX is a patented device that enables children with neuromuscular disabilities and orthopedic disorders, including muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, arthrogryposis and spinal cord injury to regain some independence and self-sufficiency.
Initially, Dr. Rahman's research was to address the feeding needs of children with arm weakness, such as with muscular dystrophy. He and his team quickly realized its application was much broader than that.
"These children often do not have enough strength to lift food to their mouths and rely on awkward compensatory movements or eat with assistance," he says. "However, through our agreement with JAECO Orthopedic, this technology will be available to a vast population of potential users, including stroke victims."
Mark Conry, president of JAECO Orthopedic agrees. "We see a huge potential for the WREX in both the pediatric and adult populations. We are excited to be the manufacturers and distributors that will help bring the promise of WREX to a broader set of patients."
The WREX is now in trials at sites across the country, including those serving adult stroke patients.
JAECO Orthopedic will be manufacturing the WREX through a National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program grant designed to stimulate technological innovation and increase private sector commercialization of technology developed through Federally-funded research and development efforts.
About Nemours Biomedical Research
The mission of Nemours Biomedical Research is to contribute to the body of health care knowledge that supports the medical and surgical staff in restoring and improving the health of acutely and chronically ill children. Through these contributions, we hope to advance disease prevention, medical diagnosis of childhood diseases, subsequent treatment modalities, and finally, measurements of the healing effectiveness of these efforts.
Nemours (www.Nemours.org), which owns and operates the Alfred I. duPont Hospital, has a long-standing commitment to scholarly and scientific endeavors directed towards improving the health of children. Nemours Biomedical Research, under the direction of Vicky L. Funanage, PhD, is a foundation-wide endeavor, spanning all operating divisions of Nemours. The tremendous research efforts undertaken at Nemours have resulted in the development of new technologies, new approaches, and new devices. The Office of Technology Transfer, led by Thomas H. Shaffer, PhD, works to bring these to the marketplace.
For more information on the Office of Technology Transfer please visit our Web site at http://www.nemours.org/internet?url=no/rsch/art2540.html