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Ventilator-dependent 3-year old given unique set of wheels thanks to university innovation centre

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A bike trailer created by the Cerebra Innovation Centre at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) in Swansea has given a young boy a new taste of freedom.

Henry Waines, aged 3, has a rare congenital heart disease and tracheobronchomalacia, a condition of the windpipe that means he currently needs to be ventilated 24 hours a day via a tracheostomy.

The ventilator is bulky and has to travel everywhere with him. Like any young boy, Henry wants to play and be active, but it was becoming hard for his mum Shevonne to keep up with him while carrying the ventilator – especially after Santa gave Henry a brand-new pedal bike for Christmas.

Keen to find a solution, Shevonne asked the Cerebra Innovation Centre if they could help.

Cerebra Innovation Centre (CIC) is a 100% donation-funded organisation that designs and builds bespoke products to help disabled children discover and engage with the world around them.

CIC came up with the perfect solution for Henry: a cool trailer that enables him to take his ventilator with him on his adventures without his parents having to run alongside. As with everything made by CIC, it was designed to look great and be fun to use.

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“We have had a lovely weekend with Henry and his trailer,” said Shevonne after the delivery of the trailer to their home in Yorkshire. “It’s absolutely amazing!! The freedom it has given him is incredible. We can be more than five meters away and have a much more normal interaction with him on his bike.

“He has adjusted to turning with the trailer and is building up his speed again as the trailer is clearly heavier than he is used to, but he loves it! I actually stopped and talked to someone today rather than being dragged away as I usually am when I’m attached to Henry. Its literally life changing for us! It’s so much nicer to go for a walk this way. We are incredibly grateful.

“I can now see his expression and the delight on his face as I don’t need to be behind him carrying the ventilator in a backpack. There’s not one word or one thing to say to best describe how wonderful Henry’s trailer is. It’s absolutely life-changing.”

Dr Ross Head, Associate Professor at CIC, said he and his team were delighted to work on the project.

“This was a unique case for us; we have never been asked for this type of device before,” he said. “The trailer was built with all the appropriate fixtures, fittings and safety devices to keep Henry as safe as possible. This included a special custom-made safety attachment system to Henry’s bike which can be removed very quickly if necessary, straps to hold his ventilator safe and even some custom graphics to make him go faster!

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“The wide wheelbase and super cool pneumatic tyres allow the trailer to zip along safely and as Henry progresses, we have made an additional device to ensure the air tube doesn’t get snagged in the wheels. As you can see, Henry is super happy with his new-found freedom and independence, and that makes us even more enthusiastic to help even more children. If we can help a child you know, please drop us a line and we’ll do our best to put a smile on their face just like Henry!”


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