Device Assists Children with Leg Disabilities to Move Independently
Developed by Polytechnic University, the Magic Carpet device offers children with leg disabilities the opportunity to experience and practice moving independently.
"This device offers preschool children with leg disabilities the chance to experience moving about. Once they become interested in moving in this way, they learn to operate it and move around for themselves. The movement assistive device offers them an opportunity to practice, so when they reach school age they can then make a smooth transition to operating an electric wheelchair."
The Magic Carpet can take a maximum load of 90 kg, so it can also carry a parent or stroller. It can be operated in a variety of different positions, including lying down.
"First, children can be taught movements by an occupational therapist or physical therapist, which don't usually cause them to tense up, so they can remember them by using the switch. In the process, they learn how to stop in front of obstacles or avoid them, so this device will help them to move around themselves in future by using an electric wheelchair."
The Magic Carpet, which has wheels on each side and four ball casters at the front and rear, can go forwards and backwards, left and right, or make a 360º turn on the spot. Users can choose between various different switches, including a joystick. The device has five speeds, ranging from 0.4 to 4.0 km/h, and runs for up to 4 km on a single charge.
"We have been working together with Koya System Design to create a device with a price tag of around US$6,250. Realistically, it will be difficult to commercialize it at that price, in light of factors like safety, parts procurement and maintenance, so this is still under consideration."
In light of safety concerns, Polytechnic University intends to utilize line-tracing technology in the future to allow the device to move freely within a prescribed area, and to conduct R&D on training software that will allow it to move along a predetermined line.