Learn how our Ciena team in Ottawa donated a life-changing robot walker and continue to support CHEO, a global leader in pediatric health care and research located in Ontario.

In the Development and Rehabilitation department of CHEO, there’s a robot named Ciena. This robot is a Trexo Gait Trainer—a type or robot walker that helps kids with physical impairments learn to stand, walk, and exercise. It’s named Ciena because the purchase of this life-changing piece of equipment was made possible due to a generous donation made by Ciena and its employees to the CHEO Foundation.

Helping our local communities has always been important to our teams, and when the Covid 19 pandemic began in 2020, our people wanted to find ways to give back without gathering in person. One team leader had recently learned about the Trexo robot walker and suggested that donating one from the company to a hospital in need would be an excellent way to make a big impact without anyone needing to meet in person.

Ciena, through your donation . . . we were able to purchase this device, and the benefits are endless.

A young patient tries out the robot walkerTeam members in Ottawa thought of the CHEO Foundation as the perfect recipient of this gift. From that moment on, Ciena and the CHEO Foundation have maintained a wonderful relationship, working together to help local kids in need.

How the Robot Walker Aids in Children’s Healthcare

The addition of this robot walker to the hospital’s arsenal of tools means that children with the most intensive needs are able to access the latest technology in the field of gait training. The wearable robotic exoskeleton offers precise support for children whose other options might not be as safe or effective for their conditions.

The Trexo Plus is helping children experience walking - for many cases, the first time in their lives.

The benefits of access to the robot walker extend far beyond the joys of walking. This tool also improves children’s quality of life by decreasing the negative consequences of immobility. When a growing child has mobility complications, they often experience complications with their skin, bones, gastrointestinal tract, and weight that can decrease their quality of life. With the mobility made possible by Ciena the Robot, kids are able to avoid many of these further complications.

Child smiling with adult

Creating Opportunities for Independence and Growth

What these technological advances look like in practice is a 2-year-old patient whose ability to walk improved significantly in just a few weeks. His parent says how thankful their family is to have access to the robot walker, due to the fast improvements his child has seen in walking ability. From a parent’s perspective, this machine gives kids the freedom to be a kid again after and injury or illness.

I feel like he’s getting independence and he’s being able to explore the world.

A doctor working with patients and the robot walker highlights the importance of helping kids move hands-free, so they can better engage in their environment. By enabling kids to walk on their own while keeping their hands free, they can better participate in their community, play, explore, and learn as kids are meant to.

Another patient who was unable to walk or stand without assistance was able to go from walking one or two steps per practice session to walking up to 1,000 with the help of the robot walker. This difference has resulted in a major boost to both his mobility and confidence. As a result, this patient has more independence and self esteem, helping the social and happy child get the most out of life.

Ciena’s Ongoing Relationship with CHEO Foundation

Two medical workers stand with robot walkerIn the three years since the robot walker was purchased, Ciena employees have continued to raise money for the CHEO Foundation. So far, over $78,500 have been raised to support programming and equipment purchases for the Development and Rehabilitation department, helping even more kids improve their quality of life while in the hospital.

Included in these funds donated is money contributed by Ciena as part of our Ciena Cares volunteer rewards program, in which employees can earn money for charitable causes by volunteering their time. In this case, employees in the Ottawa office volunteered time cleaning the environment around Ciena’s campus, and directed funds raised by those efforts toward the CHEO Foundation.

A Shared Commitment to Innovation

With this collaboration, funds raised for the hospital can also help kids even far beyond the eastern Ontario region, thanks to the research conducted using the equipment purchased. While having the latest technology available in the hospital has a tremendous positive impact for local families, doctors can also use tools like the robot walker to work on research that advances medicine for everyone, growing the possibilities for doing good.

Research outcomes will inform future development and use of robotic devices in therapy programs for children with disabilities locally, nationally and internationally.

Our shared commitment to innovation and harnessing the power of technology for good has continued to inspire both our teams. To learn more about the life-saving work done at CHEO or to donate to the CHEO Foundation, visit the CHEO website. To learn more about how Ciena is giving back to our communities, visit our community page.

Child patient fist bump with medical worker