A technology from Space
In 1971, the Soviet space program developed the "Penguin suit". This special suit was worn by the astronauts in space flights to neutralize the harmful effects of weightlessness and hypokineis on the body: bone density loss, altered integration of sensory responses, muscle atrophy, altered integration of motor responses, cardiovascular changes, and bodily fluid imbalances. Research scientists and space medicine specialists after a long term research, created a loading suit that made long trips to space achievable.
The suit developed by the Russian space program was the first step for the modern suit therapy. However, this suit limited the astronauts' movement and was difficult to put on. On the other hand, its dynamic orthotic design was a success. The fact that it could be worn for long periods of time was the basis of the intensive suit therapy.
The Adeli suit
Later, the technology of the "suit therapy" started to be shared with rehabilitation professionals. They realized that the effects of weightlessness were similar to the physical problems seen in patients with Cerebral Palsy (CP). For this reason, they decided to adapt this suit for patients with CP.
In the mid 90's a clinic in Poland took a further step and developed the Adeli suit, the first one used with children with CP.
The Pediasuit™ is the most modern type of suit available today. It was created by Leonardo
de Oliveira, the co-founder of Therapies 4 Kids in Florida. Therapies 4 Kids is an intensive
therapy clinic located in South Florida created for his son Lucas who is hemiplegic and
needed intensive therapies. Lucas started to crawl after only one week of intensive therapies
while using a suit and started to walk at the end of the third week.
After Lucas' success story, Leonardo de Oliveira and a group of Therapists developed the suit based on the Penguin suit from Russia but full of adaptations and improvements seen necessary by his health care group of collaborators (Luana Pedrozo, MSPT; Braz Paiva, PT; Justin Thomas, Physiologist and EMT).
The group noticed that the material for the suit needed to be lighter and with a breathable material and also it needed to be easy to apply and to be removed and very comfortable. The whole idea was to make a suit so easy to use that it can be taught to therapists around the world and also to parents to apply it themselves back home if they leave in countries without Pediasuit™ Clinics.Discover the PediaSuit™
As per its construction, the suit is manufactured in the USA with several parts coming from India, Indonesia and Malaysia. The Pediasuit™ is made of a soft fabric with breathable pads to make its long term use more comfortable for the patients. Its short also have buttons on the bottom to make diaper changes, if necessary, easier for the caregivers, with no need to take the whole suit off and wasting precious therapy time.
The theory behind the suit therapy is that once the body is in proper alignment, with support and pressure through all joints, intensive therapy can be performed that will (re)educate the brain to recognize correct movement patterns and muscle activity. Of great importance is the fact that the achievements with suit therapy treatment are retained after the rehabilitation course.
The exo-eskeleton produced by the suit increases the significant effects on the patient's ability to perform new motor plans. With the ability to provide artificial formation and reinforcement of correct or appropriate movement patterns through the suit with repetitive exercises, patients learn new motor plans and increase their strength simultaneously. Its locomotor neurological component combined with strength training, makes the suit ideal for many neurogenic movement disorders, especially cerebral palsy.
To date, hundreds of special needs children and athletes in recovery from all over the world have benefited from the use of the Pediasuit™. The stories of success are many but it does not involve kids learning to walk only but an improvement in their lives in general.