A revolutionary " saddleshaped" wheelchair is being developed by the University of Worcester to help children fight the debilitating effects of cerebral palsy.
The prototype is designed to help prevent curvature of the spine and offers better support and posture to facilitate easier breathing, feeding, drinking and communication.
The new chair contrasts with the more commonly used moulded seated wheelchair, which is used to 'fix' children in a static position, and in turn restricts the user ' s movement.
The chair was created by Kay Coombes, director of national charity ARCOS, which helps children and adults with complex communication and swallowing problems who require specialist long- term treatment.
Researchers at Worcester University's Motion Analysis Research and Rehabilitation Centre (MARRC) were invited to use their 3D motional analysis technology to capture physical data needed to prove its benefits and persuade manufacturers to back its design concept.
"Our motion capture cameras have created a precise 3D pressure map of the chair, with a fully rotational skeletal image, that physically highlights every aspect of the chair's operation," said John Hall, business and project development manager at MARRC.
Kevin O'Fatharta, from Galway, Ireland, whose daughter Saorla has cerebral palsy and has one of the new chairs, said it had brought enormous benefits.
"We cannot put a price on the difference this chair has made on Saorla's life and our lives, as it has helped to keep her pain free," he said.
"We now want to help as many children and adults to gain the advantages of this chair."