knows no bounds. Actually, it could easily have been a dad.
A mother who could not bear to see her son with cerebral palsy sitting in a wheelchair most of his waking day, and so created a device to help him on his feet, has seen her invention launched worldwide.
The Firefly Upsee by Northern Ireland based company Leckey – a standing and walking harness for children with motor impairment – was the invention of Israeli mother, Debby Elnatan, who wanted a harness support that could improve her son’s mobility skills.
The Upsee is expected to attract global demand as the first product of its kind. It has already been trialled with families across the UK, USA and Canada with positive results.
Inventor Debby Elnatan said, “It is wonderful to see this product available to families across the world. When my son was 2 years old, I was told by medical professionals that “he didn’t know what his legs are and has no consciousness of them”. That was an incredibly difficult thing for a mother to hear. I started to walk him day after day, which was a very strenuous task for both of us. Out of my pain and desperation came the idea for the Upsee and I’m delighted to see it come to fruition.”
The Firefly Upsee will enable infants and small children to stand and achieve repetitive walking training with the support of an adult. The system includes a harness for the child, which attaches to the system’s adult belt, and specially-engineered sandals, which allows the parent and child to step simultaneously and leaves their hands free for play and other tasks.
The Firefly team, part of the Leckey company in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, worked closely with Debby to design and manufacture the product for the international market. The company has 30 years’ experience in clinical excellence. A team of designers, engineers, textile experts and therapists have worked on the project since 2012.
Firefly’s Clinical Research Manager and occupational therapist, Clare Canale, said the product could help families across the globe; “Short-term, the Upsee improves special needs family participation and quality of life, while research suggests it has the potential to help the with physical and emotional development in the longer term.”
I grew up with several cousins who were born with cerebral palsy. This nifty little gadget would have given them so much joy. Pricey at $500, but I believe the price will go down in time as it becomes more and more popular. Where there is a will, there always seems to be a way.