Yusuf, 8, has a look of sheer delight when he can finally feed himself favorite dishes such as couscous, salad and chocolate pudding thanks to assistive devices fashioned for him at ALYN Hospital, a nonprofit pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation facility in Jerusalem.
Because of disabilities affecting his hands, Yusuf cannot hold a fork or spoon. The little boy was dependent on others to feed him until ALYN’s two-year-old innovation center designed several low-tech mechanical solutions that quite literally changed his life.
The innovation center has two tracks: PELE (a Hebrew acronym for Solutions for Children of ALYN and also a Hebrew word meaning “wonder”), which designs case-specific solutions for special-needs children; and ALYNnovation, where entrepreneurs develop and work with corporate partners to commercialize mass-market assistive products to enhance independence and quality of life for children with special needs everywhere.
Other PELE inventions include smart soles (developed in cooperation with students from the Jerusalem College of Technology), embedded with an electronic chip that collects and analyzes gait data in order to tailor walking aids accurately for each patient’s needs.
Another is a unique music cart with adapted instruments that enables children with severe disabilities to benefit from music therapy treatments.