ORTHOPUS is working on the development of a motorised arm support for people with limited mobility: the Supporter. This arm support is the first stage of the ARMMS project, a range of assistive robotic and modular solutions.
Meeting patients’ needs, at a fair price
People with limited mobility have a strong need for technical solutions: in Europe approximately 200,000 people have a neuromuscular condition. These diseases are responsible for muscle weakness and can lead to damaged or lost mobility for certain limbs.
In order to help patients retain a certain degree of autonomy, and sometimes even slow the progression of the disease, healthcare professionals encourage the use of assistive aids as early as possible.
Problem? The devices currently available on the market are extremely expensive and are not modular. Besides, they are not available and adaptable for children.
The ARMMS range – which can be tailored to the user’s body shape and whose functionalities and design can be customised – accommodates the specific needs of each person, depending on the disability and how it evolves in time.
In 2020, the project’s technological innovation was acknowledged and rewarded by a national contest: ARMMS was the winner of the 22nd edition of the “Concours i-Lab” organised by BPI France and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
The team bringing the project to life
Florian Armange leads the ARMMS project here at ORTHOPUS. Trained as an embedded systems engineer, Florian is specialised in robot actuator control. Before joining the crew, he worked for Aldebaran Robotics on designing actuators and various innovative platforms.
He enjoys the social dimensions fostered by the ARMMS project as well as its multidisciplinary nature. On a day-to-day basis, he juggles between developing the software, organising the tests and managing the team and the project over time.
Intern-sailors as well as the rest of the crew are here to support some technical aspects such as mechanical design or prototype building.
David Piriou from Mathis Orthopédie also brings his know-how to the project, by manufacturing the arm support’s brace, the part supporting the patient’s arm.
Finally, for the overall aspect of the ARMMS project, we work with Studio Creava on the range’s design and ergonomics. This agency, based in Nantes and specialised in industrial design, has been working hand in hand with us to help develop the visual aspect of our solutions.
Testing the arm support with the help of ESEAN hospital
The ARMMS project is run in conjunction with ESEAN AFP France Handicap, a healthcare facility dedicated to children and teenagers, who are experts in mobility impairment. The prototype of the Supporter is currently co-developed with Pierre, a user-patient, at the ESEAN facility.
Between July and December 2020, 4 meetings made possible the development of an arm support prototype, tailored to Pierre’s needs. The ORTHOPUS and ESEAN teams worked closely together in order to find the best possible technical solutions to attach the device to the wheelchair, to make the brace comfortable or regarding the choice of the control button.
At the same time, careful consideration was given to design questions, which are a major component of the project: the arm support was made to the colours of the Pierre’s favourite football club (FC Nantes).
Next decisive stage: a 15-day “full-scale” experience to test the usage and usefulness of the arm support both for Pierre and his carers.
Upcoming validation stages for the arm support
If the prototype is validated at the end of the 15-day experience, the objective is to extend the test to a group of people. A clinical trial to validate its medical quality will then be organised in conjunction with several healthcare facilities, including ESEAN. This stage shall consist in comparing the equivalence of our arm support with other technical aides already on the market so as to best meet users’ needs.