The WREX Orthosis (Assistive Device)
What Is a WREX?
The WREX is an exoskeleton (a device that a person can wear). It helps kids with weak arms from nerve and muscle problems. Wearing one helps them move and use their arms and hands to do tasks like eat, play with toys, write, draw, or use a communication device.
Why Is a WREX Used?
The WREX (say "REX") helps kid move weak upper arms. Weakness can happen from health problems like arthrogryposis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spinal muscular atrophy.
Unlike other braces, a WREX helps kids move their arms in all directions. Others only aid side-to-side movement.
How Does a WREX Work?
WREX stands for Wilmington robotic exoskeleton. It's made of lightweight plastic, metal, and rubber bands. A WREX can be attached to a child's wheelchair or to a jacket for kids who can walk.
The WREX helps hold up a child's arms with an anti-gravity effect, almost like floating. This lightens the effort of lifting the arms. Kids can use the strength they do have to complete a task. Each WREX is custom-made for the patient. For some kids, doctors can use a 3-D printer to make parts that the child needs.
How Can Parents Help?
As with any assistive device, it's important to keep a WREX clean. This might mean checking to make sure it still fits and moves well and the screws are tight. Make sure that other caretakers (like family members, nurses, or teachers) know how to help with the WREX too.
As your child grows, you'll go to regular doctor visits. The WREX team will adjust the WREX or create new parts to make sure it still fits well as your child gets bigger.
What Else Should I Know?
If your child has upper arm weakness, talk to your care team. Ask if the WREX or another medical device could help your child be more independent. Keep talking to your care team as your child grows because needs change over time.