Diagnosed with MS 12 years ago, Fernando was forced to take early retirement due the daily struggles he faces with bladder control.... Find out more
Walking with MS
The winning idea had some tough competition. Take a look at Afleek.
Afleek is an idea designed to solve Giacomo’s challenge.
Giacomo’s wife Silien struggles with mobility. She’s unsure on her feet, often relying on the closest wall to find her balance, she does not want to use walking aids because of the stigma attached to them and regularly needs periods of rest. Whilst she won’t let this stop her from doing things, it does impose limits on the life they live together. Over the years, the pleasure they used to enjoy walking and travelling together, has faded.
Foot drop is a gait abnormality caused by damaged nerves – the result of having MS, and is the main reason that so many people living with MS lose their balance and fall. While there is already an existing solution to the problem; a technology called FES, it’s not widely used. As some are too big and bulky, making it difficult to use discreetly, while others are difficult to implement individually.
However, Afleek has adapted this existing technology to make it far more innovative, original and most importantly for Giacomo and his wife Sicilian, discreet. The Afleek fitness tights hide the technology in the material, and because they can be worn under other garments, addresses issues of self-consciousness.
Ellis is a recent graduate from a Creative Advertising course in London. After graduating, he started working for a consumer advertising agency, but soon realised that his heart was in creative problem solving for the greater good. He then shifted his focus towards coming up with ideas that make a real difference to people’s lives. With that in mind, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to get involved with The World vs.MS.
It really affected me to learn that people who suffer from balance problems rarely leave the house due to the difficulty they experience in getting out and about. I can only imagine the mental health issues this could cause. Then when I learnt that balance affects 70 – 80% of the 2.5 million people living with MS, I knew I had to do something.
Also, Giacomo’s challenge resonated with me on a personal level, as my father suffered a stroke last year which left him severely impaired. Thankfully he is now on his way to a full recovery, but I saw first-hand how our physical functioning is the foundation of an independent and fulfilling life, and just how hard daily life can be when it’s disrupted.
Afleek takes innovative technology designed to aid foot drop, and incorporates it into the material of fitness tights. The material is thin enough for users to wear under other garments, which ensures they are always discreet. This was an important point to address on the brief, and subtlety of use is definitely one of Afleek’s strong points. What’s more, this wearable product can be used anytime, anywhere. So not only is this a universal product, but it negates the need for additional walking aids; another important part of the brief.
Not only will Afleek help people living with MS to improve their walking and balance, but it will also encourage them to get out and about; by removing the fear of falling. What’s more, fitness tights are already very much part of the daily norm in society. Not only are they worn by our sports men and women, but also the average gym goer. Which means the tights could even be worn on their own and still not make the wearer feel conspicuous or self-conscious. Afleek would also come with a mobile app, where users can track and monitor their own activity.
You’re an Afleek.
For Giacomo’s wife Silien, it is the uncertainty of having limited mobility that means everyday situations are a source of anxiety for them both. Because along with the physical limitations come the psychological ones. Whilst accepting life with MS is one thing, accepting help can be another. And this acceptance can be made harder by the stigma often attached to walking aids. Although they can help people overcome their mobility problems, using them can create further anxiety around how they are perceived and treated by others.
However, Afleek could potentially help solve all that, and enable people like Silien to walk long and short distances without the need for waking aids or assistance.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurological condition that affects around 2.5 million people worldwide.1 In MS, the body’s own immune system attacks the nerves in the brain so they can’t send messages properly, causing the disabilities associated with the condition.2 Symptoms vary from person to person and from day to day.2 It’s this unpredictability that means every day can pose a new challenge for those living with MS.
Paadje is a unique belt that improves gait by providing interactive visual cues while guiding the user on a continuous path.
References: 1. Prevalence and incidence of multiple sclerosis. MS Trust. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/a-z/prevalence-and-incidence-multiple-sclerosis. Last accessed: August 2016. 2. Introduction to MS. MS Trust. Available at: https://www.mstrust.org.uk/understanding-ms/what-ms/introduction-ms. Last accessed: August 2016.
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