Exercising with an automated head-stabilizing apparatus has enabled a small group of cerebral palsy patients in a pilot program to virtually eliminate athetoid head movements.
According to the originator of the apparatus, Fredric A. Harris, PhD, a neurophysiologist in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, the same principle and basic instrumentation used in the head stabilizer may also enable cerebral palsy patients to gain voluntary control over arm and leg movements.
The device consists of a frame that restrains the shoulders and a manipulator that supports and acts on the head (Figure). The functional elements include transducers, a control center, and pneumatically driven cylinders. Information about head movement is continually sensed by the transducers and fed to the control center, which actuates the cylinders to apply pressure that restores the head to a preset position.
The stabilizer was originally developed by