At the presentation ceremony, TUM president Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann mentioned the numerous projects with which Carmen Würth promotes the social integration of people with disabilities. With the foundation she established with her husband, the entrepreneur Prof. Reinhold Würth, she supports care facilities, inclusiveness projects and a music festival, among other initiatives. "Ms. Würth's philosophy of life and her commitment to others is exemplary," said Prof. Herrmann at the awards ceremony. "We are greatly honored that she chose TUM as the location for the Markus Würth Foundation Professorship for Pediatric Neuro-Orthopaedics and Cerebral Palsy five years ago."
The endowed professorship enables Prof. Renée Lampe and her team to do research on the development of children with cerebral palsy. These sometimes serious conditions are the result of brain damage in early childhood, for instance when there is a shortage of oxygen at birth. The consequences can be motor dysfunction, speech and language disorders, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities and epilepsy.
New therapeutic approaches
Prof. Lampe not only conducts basic research in these disorders, but also works with her team to develop innovative therapeutic concepts on the basis of the results. One example is the world's first standing wheelchair with biometric joints. The upright position has a positive impact on muscle tone for patients who cannot stand unaided and helps to prevent pressure ulcers and damage to the hip joints.
A second therapeutic project pursues a quite different direction: A potential form of treatment for cerebral palsy patients is to play the piano. As they practice, the brain forms new synapses and their hand sensorimotor functions improve. To make it easier for children with cerebral palsy to practice, Lampe – herself a pianist – developed a sensorimotor system with her colleagues. That achievement earned Prof. Lampe and her team the TUM IdeAward in 2015.