How A Gaming Controller He Designed For His Sister Could Help Others With Cerebral Palsy

"I see the possibilities for it being endless.”

After Jess Searle — a woman with cerebral palsy — walked a mile for charity but was then left with leg spasms, it led to an idea by her brother Billy that could help millions. 

Cerebral palsy is "a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and maintain balance and posture," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are four main types of CP: spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed CP. Stiff muscles, uncontrollable movements, and poor balance and coordination are all movements disorders that can occur.

In Jess' case, she's always struggled with handheld devices and game consoles, Reuters reports. But her brother Billy — a student from Loughborough Design School, studying industrial design and technology — decided to try to help by building a 3-D-printed prototype of a controller, which is called Mylo. The aim of the device is to help people with disabilities improve their dexterity through games in order to strengthen muscles. 

"Mylo improves hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and speed of information processing by interacting with a device that requires the user to speak, listen, twist and press a sequence of buttons to improve the independence of the disabled community," it says on the James Dyson Award's website.

According to Loughborough Design School, Billy's idea came after Jess' taxing walk to raise money for charity resulted in extreme muscle spasms in her legs and limited physical ability. 

"I see the future for Mylo as being a device that people source for occupational therapy, as well as being a household object that the family can play with," Billy says. "The main ambition from this was to break down the barriers between able-bodied users and disabled users; because I think it's something that developers of games controllers have neglected slightly. I see the possibilities for it being endless."

Now, Billy seeks investors to help him to help develop his prototype, Reuters adds

But he isn't stopping there: Billy has plans to develop a smaller device for those who have the ability to use one hand. "This concept would be appropriate for war veterans who have been injured, particularly if they have young children; if they could be included in their parents road to recovery by playing games with them to aid their rehabilitation not, only could this teach the child about their condition, they will also encourage their parent to lead to a speedy recovery."

We can't wait to see how Billy and his work continue to help people. Check out the video above to see more of his work.


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