We’ve been saying for ages that parents are among the best problem-solvers in the world, and the story behind Upsee confirms it. When Debby Elnatan’s second son Rotem was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, an umbrella term for a group of neuromuscular movement disorders that develop before birth or early in childhood, she decided that the physical therapists’ recommendations for Rotem to remain seated for most of the day weren’t going to work for her son. She wanted her little boy to move and walk and experience the world from a different viewpoint. The rub: he needed Debby’s help… a lot of it. So she took the matter into her own hands and crafted a device that would allow him to move with her, safely encouraging independence and helping to develop his muscles. Upsee is the result of years of tinkering with Debby’s original harness design to make it more comfortable, user-friendly, and ultimately more beneficial for the children using it. The current version includes different harness colors, an adjustable hip belt for the adult, and double sandals that allow the parent to help guide their child’s feet, effectively teaching them the movements of walking. Debby estimates that the Upsee has been sold in 100 countries: think about all those kiddos who are getting the thrill of walking for the first time!
My back still aches when I remember the weeks I spent stooped over holding my kids’ little hands as they learned how to walk. For parents with children who have cerebral palsy or other neuromuscular diseases that make walking independently difficult or impossible, the walking process can mean years of bending over. The Upsee’s design gives parents the freedom to be hands-free, which is especially helpful if they have other little ones to care for. A hip belt makes it more comfy for parents to bear their child’s weight from the core instead of their shoulders or back. The child’s harness was designed to center the pelvis, and while it has the ability to be fully weight bearing, it also has a reduced trunk support option for when and if the child’s trunk control and strength improve. There’s something so lovely and extremely functional about the double sandal design that brought tears to my eyes when I first saw the Upsee. I just love that parents and kids get to share the experience of walking and moving together and that many parents are able to feel the moment when their child begins to take steps and bear weight on his or her own.
The Upsee is truly a labor of love with Debby’s care, persistence, and ingenuity serving as an amazing example of how a DIY walking aid for one child can truly help thousands. The Upsee is designed to work for children ages 1-8, with an online size assessment to determine the appropriate version.