Cerebra – helping children with brain conditions break boundaries

Cerebra’s vision is that every family that includes a child with a brain condition will have the chance to discover a better life together.

Thanks to the remarkable advancements in engineering of our generation, we live in a world where people can push boundaries and achieve things they never thought possible, like a little girl with cerebral palsy completing a triathlon.

But that’s how technology can help. A system which could save time, energy, money and worry would enable people to dedicate their efforts to the more important things in life.

A lifelong condition, cerebral palsy affects movement and co-ordination; caused by a problem with the brain that occurs before, during or soon after birth. Because of how this condition impacts the body, an event which involves 750m of swimming, 20km of cycling and 5km of running would normally be considered an impossible achievement.

But that wasn’t enough to stop six-year-old Imogen Ashwell-Lewis from accomplishing her dream of competing in a triathlon alongside able-bodied participants, which was made possible by our customer Cerebra.

This inspiring charity, based in Wales, UK, transforms lives for children across the country who have brain conditions – enabling them to have the best quality of life.

Imogen takes on a triathlon

imogen

Cerebra’s goal is to carry out research and support the families of children like Imogen aged 0 to 16 years with neurological conditions.

Part of the charity is the Cerebra Innovation Centre – a small team of talented engineers offering a bespoke product design service to help families which have a child with a brain condition. Their support makes a huge difference, working wonders for children by helping them with anything from improved physical mobility to more confidence with socialising.

Cerebra set up its Innovation Centre in conjunction with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Its engineers are experts in electronics and design, and work with a range of industry partners as well as other charities in the development of products.

The team’s most recent adventure was helping Imogen compete in the Swansea Triathlon which took place across the Welsh city in May 2018 – with them participating alongside her!

Imogen was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth and has significantly limited movement in her lower body, and the Innovation Centre first worked with her four years ago. The team helped Imogen by adapting a wheelchair to help her get around her home and, as she grew up, outside in the garden and wider world.

After being turned away from many sports in the past because of her cerebral palsy, Imogen was thrilled at the opportunity to pilot the CIC crew in the Swansea Triathlon.

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After being turned away from sports in the past because of her cerebral palsy, Imogen was thrilled to pilot the crew in the Swansea Triathlon


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With Imogen heading up as team captain, the three engineers at Cerebra’s Innovation Centre supported her through each segment of the triathlon. Designer Dan Cuthbertson is a seasoned surfer, so he swam Imogen to victory in the boat they designed and built just for her.

Then Gerallt Devonald, another product designer, towed her along to help her smash the cycle course in a bike made for her using parts sourced from us at RS, followed by Dr Ross Head who ran with Imogen to the finish line.

Engineering better lives

Ceo and team

Although some equipment which helps children with neurological conditions is available to buy, it doesn’t always suit all the requirements and the aesthetics aren’t always very appealing.

As RS customers, the engineers at Cerebra create logical and innovative solutions which can dramatically change children’s lives for the better. They bought products from us to help build Imogen’s road bike and kayak which saw her sail through the event.

Cerebra’s designs aim to reduce the social stigma around disabilities by making not only functional but also beautiful products for young people. Some of its products are one-off bespoke designs, others are made in small batches and some are designed with the commercial market in mind.

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Cerebra’s designs aim to reduce the social stigma around disabilities by making functional and beautiful products for young people.


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The Innovation Centre works on approximately 100 projects each year, helping more families and children lead better lives by achieving their dreams and ambitions despite limitations.

Experience Imogen’s inspiring story by watching our video, as well as learn more about the amazing work of the Innovation Centre and incredible stories of other children supported by Cerebra.

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