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UD Student Invents Device To Help Cerebral Palsy Patients Sleep Comfortably

Ann Thompson
Spencer Janning's invention pulls apart and turns to keep the cerebral palsy patient comfortable while they toss and turn in bed. More importantly their hips and legs remain stable.

A University of Dayton student and Cincinnati Country Day graduate has come up with a way to make cerebral palsy patients comfortable and safe while they sleep.

When taking an innovation class, Spencer Janning, a UD senior mechanical and aerospace engineering major, first learned of a problem patients face. They need to wear a device overnight to prevent hip problems.  This keeps their legs from crossing. Most devices are rigid and don't allow patients to move.

Dayton-area teen Lianna Bryant was having so much trouble her mom asked the engineering class to come up with a better device.

"Part of the assignment was to come up with a new hip and knee abductor for her child that would prevent her daughter from scissoring and at the same time allow her to freely move her legs around," Janning says.

He invented the Freedom Brace, which he prints on a 3D printer and is now selling online. Janning demonstrates it in this video from Launch Dayton


Janning has a patent for the Freedom Brace, an FDA approved Class 1 medical device.

The University of Dayton provided some early seed money to Janning. Emily Fehrman-Cory is in charge of the UD incubator called Leonardo Enterprises.

"Spencer's invention is awesome," she says. "I know it had a huge impact for the original family that he designed it for but it's been very exciting to follow the progress." Fehrman-Cory says Janning has already been accepted into the Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Janning has a patent - it runs in the family. His great uncle invented, among other things, those Christmas lights that stay on even when a bulb is burnt out.


With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.