Cerebral palsy impacts a person’s balance, posture, and ability to move. Children with cerebral palsy need regular physical therapy (PT) to build strength and maximize function. However, therapy service is not equitably available to every child with cerebral palsy due to social, financial, and geographical constraints. A Stanford medical student, Blynn Shideler, and his team designed a wearable device for remote physical therapy to render the service more accessible for children.
Shideler designed the prototype for the device called Biofeedback Upper-limb Device for Impairment (BUDI) as an undergraduate student while studying bioengineering at Columbia University. Later, as a Stanford School of Medicine student, he received a grant from the FDA’s Pediatric Device Consortium to develop wearable devices and assistive technologies for pediatric rehabilitation, which he used to design BUDI as a software app on a commercially-available smartwatch.
The BUDI offers an interactive mobility training program and enables the children to have PT sessions at home or anywhere. The BUDI application requires an iPhone and an Apple Watch. An interactive mobility training program is created through real-time biofeedback via the user’s Apple watch to the iPhone, where therapeutic exercises are available through the app. Therapy can be tracked in Apple Health, and progress can be monitored, as the data gets stored on Google Cloud with HIPAA-compliant security and is also updated on Apple Fitness.
BUDI also promotes communication between the therapy providers and the recipients. It provides kids with autonomy in their therapy while ensuring flexibility in the sessions. Currently, BUDI is in the testing phase. The first beta-tester is yet to receive the application.