Sunday 17 December 2017

Irish teen seeking funds for project on Parkinson's

Edel Browne. Pic. Michel Dillon
Edel Browne. Pic. Michel Dillon
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

An Irish teenager who has developed a laser technology which could help millions of Parkinson's sufferers around the world, has launched a Fund It campaign to raise €20,000 to bring her invention to fruition.

Edel Browne (19) from Athenry in Galway has won multiple awards for her invention Free Feet, which helps people with Parkinson's Disease walk unaided.

However, she now needs the funds to build a second prototype before she can secure significant funding from international investors.

The Free Feet project involves attaching a laser light to a patient's shoes. This improves mobility by giving them a target to focus on. The innovative technology has the opportunity to help millions of Parkinson's sufferers worldwide.

Initial trials found the technology resulted in a 40pc reduction in gait freeze, which causes a shuffling movement and falls among Parkinson's patients.

The third year Biotechnology student at NUI, Galway started work on the Free Feet project when she was just 15-years-old, winning the 'Best Individual Award' at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in 2013.

The Galway teen has since juggled secondary school and university while setting up the company, picking up some prestigious accolades along the way.

She was chosen as one of 30 Global Teen Leaders and attended the Just Peace Summit in New York earlier this year. Edel was also a guest at 10 Downing Street after she was named one of 200 Founders of the Future.

The young student is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at Blackstone Launchpad in NUI Galway, a campus-based programme to get students thinking about developing their ideas and projects.

But she must still find time for college.

"I'm writing up a college lab report as we speak. It just comes down to time management. All my friends know if I'm not in college I'm working on this. I'm not at home watching Netflix. There have been no duvet days for a few years now," she said.

But she now needs the vital funding if she is to bring her company Free Feet Medical any further.

"We need the funding to develop a second prototype which will allow us to carry out larger scale trials. Our initial trial found a 40pc decrease in gait freezing and we want to bring this further now to see if it can reduce the severity of falls.

"This will put us in position to go and look for more serious funding from investors and this will enable us to get to market as soon as possible, in order to improve quality of life for people with Parkinson's disease," she added.

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Irish Independent

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