Monday, November 29, 2010

Wheelchair User Dies Waiting 36 Hours In Hospital Waiting Room

Brian Sinclair had everything going against him. He was a wheelchair user, homeless and aboriginal. He was also a very sick man when he went to Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre. But he did not just appear there for no reason. He went with a referral letter from his local health clinic. That should have given some importance to his condition.

What was the problem? His urinary catheter was blocked. He had not urinated in over 24 hours. But the emergency room employees had him wait in the waiting for 36 hours. During those hours Brian Sinclair was simply ignored. No food, water or medical attention. What did he die of? An acute bladder infection.

The government promised an inquest, but nothing has been done. His family is now suing. What kind of health care system makes a sick a patient wait for 36 hours? How can people be so cruel? Read more

Friday, November 26, 2010

Time Names Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users One Of 50 Best Inventions

Time Magazine has included eLEGS Exoskeleton in a recent article about the 50 Best Inventions of 2010. But Time seems to have erred in their description saying eLEGS is " the first such device to do so without a tether".

I am pleased to see Time recognizing the promise of exoskeletons for wheelchair users in this article. Exoskeletons should be included in the top 50 inventions of 2010. But while eLEGs may be one of the most promising exoskeletons, it is certainly not the "the first such device to do so without a tether". Probably that honor should go to the HAL exoskeleton from Cyberdyne as it was the first Exoskeleton for wheelchair users to reach the market and does not use a tether.

Another Time Publication erred by declaring that there were 6 million paraplegics in the USA. This was wrong by at least a factor of 10. I had to write several emails to Time in order to get them to correct that mistake. The article has since been corrected and you can find a statement to that fact at the bottom of the article.

These all too frequent mistakes make me wonder where Time Magazine gets their information and if they do any editing or proof reading at all.

Read the latest information about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How Is eLEGS Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users Unique?

While other exoskeletons are focusing on getting a wheelchair user walking again, the people at Berkeley Bionics are doing this while trying to mimic the natural human gait with their exoskeleton eLEGS (Exoskeleton Lower Extremity Gait System.). This is not an easy task.

Why is it important to mimic the human gait? Humans step first on the heel when walking, and then roll onto the ball of the foot and toes. A study done in Utah has shown that this normal human movement is much more efficient than, for example, walking constantly on the balls of the feet or on the toes.

But more than just being efficient, the natural human gait is more comfortable than any other type of movement. And if the long term goal of the exoskeleton is to allow a wheelchair user to walk in a normal manner, reproducing the human gait will be essential.

According to Katherine Strausser from UC Berkeley, in an article in Technology Review, eLegs is the first exoskeleton to reproduce the human gait:

"Other mobile exoskeletons--like those developed by companies such as Rex Bionics or Cyberdene--don't try to emulate a natural gait, Strausser says. Because walking is a dynamic motion that is essentially falling forward, Strausser says, many designs opt for a shuffle instead of a natural gait, because "it's safer and a lot easier." However, emulating a natural gait mimics the efficiency of natural walking and doesn't strain the hips, Strausser says."

Tim Swift, a UC Berkeley graduate student in the mechanical engineering department said in an interview with the local UC Berkeley newspaper, the Daily Cal, that mimicking the normal walking traits of a healthy human is one of the primary objectives of the device and also one of its primary difficulties. "There's a reason nobody else has done this before, and that's because nobody knows how to do it," he said.

Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wheelchair Hero Stops Robbery (Full Video)

Larry Skopnik is a new Canadian Wheelchair Hero. Does the term hero seem a bit overused these days? Watch the video below. Larry wears the term very well.

This is the actual security video from the store. Fast forward to 2:20 minutes, nothing happens until then. At 3:00 minutes the action begins.

The bad guy was trying to pass a fake $50. The cashier called the police and that made the bad guy violent. He not only wanted his fake $50, he stepped behind the counter to rob the cash register. Larry rolled up and quickly put an end to that.

Larry was not the only hero that day. There were several other good souls who helped out. But Larry took the bad guy down. Larry is one of many wheelchair users who show everyday that being in a wheelchair does not mean that you can not take care of yourself and others.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hal Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users Updated On CNN

CNN has given an update on a the HAL Exoskeleton Suit. Amongst the new points mentioned there include:

There are 140 HAL suits in use in Japan, renting for just under $2,000 a

I have not seen that number before of 140 suits. This means that Cyberdyne is earning just $3.3 million per year in Japan? I would have thought it would have been considerably higher.

Professor Sankai is in the final stages of bringing the suits to Sweden and

I am certain that HAL will launch in Europe soon. Just wish we had more information about when.

Another variation is more scaled down; looking to a future when the robotic legs
are so thin the patient could wear them underneath clothing

This is a prediction I would make. One day exoskeletons will be so advanced, they will be like prosthetic legs, that is, hidden under clothes. Paraplegics will walk and except for a slightly different gait, no one will know they are using an exoskeleton.

The problem with articles like this is that they are one dimensional. CNN presents this story as though there is only one exoskeleton in development. They do not mention, for example that Rex Bionics has an exoskeleton which is on the market in New Zealand or that ReWalk from Argo is currently launching in Europe, or that eLEGS from Berkeley Bionics will soon launch in the USA. Read about all of the leading exoskeletons for wheelchair users on the Exoskeleton Website.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Shoshi's Pimped Wheelchair

I got a message from a visitor to the blog who sent me some photos of her pimped wheelchair. Shoshi puts alot of creativity and style into her wheelchair.

I invited Shoshi to tell her own story:

Pimping your wheelchair stops you being invisible. The first Christmas I was using it, I decided to put some Christmas decorations and lights on my Rolls Royce, and I was amazed at the response I got - total strangers kept coming up to me, smiling and making lovely comments, and I got into so many great conversations!

Sorry the photos are a bit dark, but it was the only way I could get the lights to show up. After Christmas I took the decorations off, and again I was amazed at the result - I was completely invisible again. So I decided I wasn't putting up with that, so I'd better have decorations on permanently. That's when I started doing it with flowers, and I haven't stopped since. This is my first attempt:

This is what I did the following summer:

and here it is against the beautiful backdrop of the gardens of Dartington Hall in Devon:

and in Bath, watching the mechanical guitar man:

We went to Naidex in April of 2009 and here I am waiting my turn for some wheelchair skills training, and you can see the Easter eggs and ribbons I put on:

I added some poppies and cornflowers for this summer's decorations:

I buy cheap silk flowers when I see them, and also sparkle trails and bits of bling to mix in with them, and of course my 2 strings of LCD lights - unfortunately the batteries don't last too well, and they don't show up in bright light, but out in the evenings they are really fun! I decorate my own spoke guards - you can find reasonably priced plain ones online. I painted the pink flowers myself, and the black ones I just stuck hotfix gems on to give some serious bling for Christmas/winter.

As a bit of reverse pimping, how's this for a bit of grunge?

I took the photo of this ancient wheelchair in its matching transport at this year's South West Disability Show, where, incidentally, I was instantly recognised by people who remembered me and my flowers from last year!

I think it's really important to make a statement with your wheelchair, or any mobility aids you may need. Nobody wants to go round looking like a grey National Health advert, and just as you express your personality with your tie, or handbag, or shoes or whatever, you can do it big time with a wheelchair. For me it's a "canvas to work on"! I also have a sticker that says "My other wheelchair is a Porsche," which like my other decorations, has an amazing effect on other people and breaks down any barriers of embarrassment they may have. I wrote an article entitled "Wheelchair Use and Attitudes" which was published on the Invest in ME website which covers this aspect as well as many other attitudes which need to be faced. The article is on page 48.

I am in the process of getting Rolls Royce Mark II at the moment - not quite sure which model it will be yet, but rest assured, it will not go out naked, but pimped to the eyeballs! I'm planning new spoke guards for it for starters. You can keep up to date with my pimping and bling-ing on Shoshi's blog

Go on, give it a go. Make someone smile today - even if it's only you!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Rex Bionics Receives Funding For New Exoskeleton

It is being reported that Rex Bionics has received new funding to develop the second generation exoskeleton. According to this report Rex has received new funding of $1.63 million to build a second version.

Part of the new money has come from TechNZ which appears to be a New Zealand funded government agency that invests in local technology.

Why is this important? An invester brings much more than just money to a project. An investor brings its experts, its network and its influence. With the New Zealand government investing in Rex, this will further help to open the doors to Rex.

Read more about Rex Bionic's Exoskeleton on the Exoskeleton website.

Monday, November 8, 2010

NUDE: Wheelchair Tennis Legend Esther Vergeer

If you did not hear about Esther Vergeer before, you probably will soon. Esther Vergeer is probably the greatest wheelchair tennis player who has ever lived. However, wheelchair tennis does not make people household names. But posing nude often will do the trick. Esther Vergeer recently did a nude photoshoot for ESPN Magazine's 2010 "Body Issue" publication. Of course, the controversy hit the fan. The big controversy surrounds the question

Should a wheelchair user, whose body is not perfect, be posing nude?

Have a look at some of the photos and decide for yourself.

You will find the nude Esther Vergeer's cover shot here
You can find an internal nude shot of Esther Vergeer here:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Website Reviews Exoskeletons For Wheelchair Users

As discussed in earlier posts, the Exoskeleton represents one of the biggest breakthroughs in recent medical history. The impact on the lives of people with disabilities will be enormous. No, the first generation of exoskeletons will not be ideal. But since there will be four manufacturers entering the market at roughly the same time, competition will be fierce and the result will be better and cheaper exoskeletons.

But as it is difficult to stay informed about all of the new exoskeleton technology, we have created a website which offers an overview of each of the exoskeletons for wheelchair users. The new website is named Exoskeleton.