Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Best Reacher Grabber For Wheelchair Users

Many wheelchair users need a grabber or reacher to extend their reach. For example, reachers are handy to pick up keys or coins that have been dropped on the floor or to reach cans or jars that are out of reach, up on a shelf. We have tested several reachers from around the world and found two excellent quality reachers, that we are able to recommend. One reacher is for everyday use around the house, the other is for grabbing heavier items. Curious to see the results? Read this article about Grabbers for wheelchair users.

Monday, October 24, 2011

eLegs Exoskeleton Manufacturer Changes Name

Berkeley Bionics, the manufacturer of the exoskeleton for wheelchair users eLEGS has announced that they are changing their name to "Ekso Bionics".

The name change makes sense. The name Berkeley Bionics reflected more about the place where the product was developed. The name Ekso Bionics is more about the product itself.

Slightly more puzzling is the fact that, along with changing the name of the company, they changed the name of the exoskeleton. From the press release:

"From this day forward, the company shall be known as Ekso Bionics, and eLEGS, a device that powers wheelchair users up and gets them standing and walking again, becomes Ekso." That is certain to cause some confusion as many people have come to know the name eLEGS.

Along with the new names come a redesigned website. What is interesting about the website is that instead of differentiating Ekso from the other Exoskeletons for wheelchair users, the new website seems to imply that Ekso is the only exoskeleton. From the company website:

"Ekso is the bionic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to stand and walk."

I find that a bit misleading. Ekso is in fact the fourth bionic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to stand and walk. The other three being already on the market, while Ekso is still in clinical trials and not expected to be launched until 2012. Many believe that Ekso will be superior to the other Exoseletons but that remains to be seen. I hope that future announcements from the Ekso Bionics management team will help us to better understand their exciting technology and how it is different, or better, from the rest of the pack.

Read more about all four exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunday, 9 October: Heidelberg Wheelchair Marathon

The countdown is on! Only a few days, then in Heidelberg the 11th International wheelchair marathon will start. Already 450 athletes Athletes have registered for this event - find out more about the German Wheelchair Marathon taking place on Sunday, 9 October in Heidelberg Germany.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Help The Austin Exoskeleton Win A da Vinci Award

The Austin Exoskeleton is up for a Davinci Award. What is a Davinci Award? From the website:

The da Vinci Awards® help build awareness of adaptive technologies that can benefit all people, regardless of ability. By nominating, you help us recognize those people and products that bring life-improving technologies to the masses.

While winners of da Vinci Award are selected by judges, according to the website "People's Choice Awards" will also be given to those Finalists receiving the highest number of video views (or votes) on YouTube"

While there are some excellent and deserving technologies there, my favorite of course is the Austin Exoskeleton. Why? Simply because the goal of the Austin Exoskeleton is to bring an affordable exoskeleton to the market. So, PLEASE watch the video below and if you can, share it via blogs, forums and emails.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

International Distributor Of Wheelchair Equipment

It can be difficult to find a U.S. distributor of wheelchair and medical equipment which is willing and experienced enough to ship internationally. When you do, it seems that prices are usually so high that it is not worth it. However, one U.S. company I have been in discussion with, Frontline Mobility is a leading international distributor of Medical Equipment. I was surprised to learn that nearly half of their sales are to customers based outside of the United States.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Brain Implants In Wheelchair Users?

According to this article in CNN researchers are testing a robotic arm which will be controlled ONLY by thought. This is exciting news for many wheelchair users. The downside? They are going to do it by implanting electrdes in the BRAIN!

Starting next month, researchers at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Maryland and the University of Pittsburgh will begin testing on spinal cord injury patients whose brains have been implanted with a tiny (2mm by 2mm) electrode array.

While I am in favor of medical research which will help people with disabilities, I do not support medical research which involves brain surgery. Implanting anything in the brain opens up the subject to a variety of problems including infection. Infection can not only be deadly, it can cause further disabilities. And if the research is successful then what? People will be offered this technology only after having electrodes implanted in the brain? Sorry, I think that this goes much too far.

Of course, I am aware that many people with disabilities urgently need technology such. There are people with locked in syndrome that have no mobility at all and being able to control robots via thought would be HUGE. But there must be other ways of reading the brains intent without sticking an electrode in there. For example at University of Maryland, another university in the USA scientist are using brain cap technology to do basically the same thing, that is control a robot via thought. However, the brain cap goes on top of the head. Nothing is implanted. No surgery required. This is cool. This type of research is not only VERY exciting, it is much more ethical in my opinion.

Scientists always use the "end" to justify the "means" so long as it leads to another publication. We will certainly hear lots of stories about how this technology can help so many people. But who will take responsibility when it goes wrong?

Would you agree to have a research scientist implant an electrode inside of your head?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wheelchair Armrest Pets: A Unique Christmas Gift Idea For A Wheelchair User

Are you looking for a gift for a wheelchair user? Would you like to have a companion who will keep you company in your wheelchair all day long? Consider Wheelchair Armrest Pets.

Wheelchair Armrest Pets will add style and personality to any manual wheelchair with armrests under 12 inches (30.5cm). There are eight wheelchair armrest pets including:

* A Dog named "Wheelie the Pup"
* Mr.Frog
* Hippo-po-Tomas
* Bunny
* Sunshine the Duck
* Peter the Penguin
* Larry the Lion
* Mike the Monkey

A pair of wheelchair armrest pets (one for each armrest) costs euro 39, but that includes shipping by post directly to your home in anywhere in the world. A bit of advice: Wheelchair armrest pets will make a unique Christmas gift idea for a wheelchair user. But shop early, because shipping takes longer during the holidays.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Coming To The UK: Rex Exoskeleton

According to this article in The Scotsman, Rex Exoskeleton is coming to the UK. According to the article, when sold in the UK, the Rex Exoskeleton will cost GBP 90,000.

The only problem is that no dates are given other than "We hope to do this in the next couple of months". However, from the Rex Exoskeleton website, they have announced "Rex now available for international sales." Potential customers are encouraged to come into contact with them and find out more. So, if you are in the UK and are interested in testing the Rex Exoskeleton, contact Rex Bionics and make an appointment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Exoskeleton To Be Controlled By Brain Waves?

University of Maryland have created a new technology which allows users to control objects, for example an exoskeleton, using only their thoughts. It is called “Brain cap” technology, and Associate Professor of Kinesiology José 'Pepe' L. Contreras-Vidal and his team are using this non-invasive technology to translate thoughts into commands which can control computers and other devices. What kind of devices?

the UMD team is developing a new collaboration with the New Zealand’s start-up Rexbionics, the developer of a powered lower-limb exoskeleton called Rex that could be used to restore gait after spinal cord injury.
Today's exoskeletons are controlled by sensors which detect some kind of input from the user. But imagine a severely paralyzed individual who can not give any input at all. This technology could read the thoughts and translate it to move the exoskeleton. Seems like this technology is far away in the future? Maybe not. Just a couple of years ago exoskeletons seemed far away.

Friday, July 29, 2011

ReWalk Exoskeleton Now Available To The US Public

Until now, exoskeletons have only been available in the USA in clinical trials. That meant that to use an exoskeleton you needed to apply for participation the trial and be selected. Now this has changed. MossRehab in Philadelphia has announced that starting in August they will be the first institution to offer ReWalk for therapeutic use. That means if your doctor gives you a prescription and a green light, you too can use it. According to the press release:

Therapeutic use of ReWalk – I, will be available initially to individuals with spinal cord injuries below T6 level who have none of the following: significant joint deformities, severe spasticity, back instability, unhealed fractures or pressure sores. Patients are required to have a recent DEXA scan for measurement of bone density and recent evaluation and prescription for ReWalk therapy from a rehabilitation physician who can certify that the patient is safe to stand.

How much will treatment cost you?:
Most insurances will cover the therapy as part of a course of physical therapy.
In case you do not remember ReWalk, Artie walked in ReWalk on the Christmas 2010 episode of Glee:

With this step, exoskeletons for wheelchair users can no longer be considered "experimental" and are well on their way to becoming a standard care. It will not be long before most top level US Rehab institutions will offer them. Read more about ReWalk Exoskeleton for wheelchair users.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Divas Battling For Rights To Use Wheelchairs

File this under amazing but true. Two Hollywood shock divas, Lady Gaga and Bette Midler, are battling over who has the claim to being the singing mermaid in a wheelchair.

Gaga used a wheelchair before in her Paparazzi tour. Now she is using a wheelchair to be a mermaid.

Here is Lady Gaga: A Mermaid In A Wheelchair

Midler tweets to her followers:

I’m not sure @ladygaga knows that I’ve performed my mermaid in a wheelchair for millions of people — and many of them are still alive,

Dear @ladygaga I’ve been doing singing mermaid in a wheelchair since 1980-You can keep the meat dress and the firecracker tits, mermaid’s mine.

Here is Bette Midler: A Mermaid In A Wheelchair

What is it with these people? Of course they are trying to use shock value in their so-called art. But is there no limit to what they will do to sell a CD?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quebec To Restrict Who Can Own A Motorized Wheelchair?

Amazing but true. Quebec is considering restricting ownership of motorized wheelchairs. According to a recent article in the CBC:

Quebec is launching a study to help determine if it should regulate the use of motorized wheelchairs. Currently anyone in the province can buy and use one but the provincial government is considering implementing restrictions.

Why? According to the article, the reason that Quebec wants to regulate who can own a motorized wheelchair is:

The use of motorized wheelchairs has been linked to 19 deaths in Quebec over the past 15 years

My guess is that many of those deaths were due to motorists not yielding to wheelchair users.

Rather than regulate who can own a wheelchair, the proper steps would be:

* Conduct a public awareness campaign to teach motorists how to behave when driving near a wheelchair user.

* Offer safety equipment to wheelchair users so that they are more visible at night. Read more about wheelchair safety.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sign: Our Store Is Not Wheelchair Accessible

Amazing but true: A bridal store in Michigan posted a sign:
Attention customers. Our store is not wheelchair accessible.

Worse yet, one wheelchair user was told clearly that she was not allowed in the dressing room!!! Read more at this link

In a similar case a woman in Long Island, NY went to a movie theater but was told that the movie she wanted to see was not accessible by wheelchairs:


Apparently many people still do not understand that discrimination against wheelchair users is ILLEGAL.

What do you do if you face a similar act of wheelchair discrimination? Read this article about wheelchair discrimination and find out how you can get a discrimination lawyer for FREE!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Axis Is Looking For Wheelchair Dancers

I came across an interesting notice today:

AXIS seeks athletes and aspiring dancers with disabilities

Why is it interesting? So many talented wheelchair performers have difficulty finding paid opportunities to perform, I was surprised to see an ad recruiting candidates.

If you are a wheelchair dancer, you probably already know Axis. Axis is a well known dance group of dancers with and without disabilities. They have been performing for over 20 years now. You can see a recent Axis Performance below:

Sounds like an interesting offer. You get a 2 year contract with salary and benefits, you would perform and tour nationally, as well as teach. Find out more about this opportunity for wheelchair dancers on the Axis Website

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Spring Based Exoskeleton For People With Arm Disabilties

In my last blog post, I wrote about a spring based lower extremity orthosis for people with mobility disorders. A few days later, I learned about a spring based product which may help people with disabilities of the arm.

Here you can see a video of the arm in action. In the last few frames you will see a person with a disability using the device:

Eric Golden, the president of Equipois was kind enough to do a brief interview about the X-Ar

Gene: How does it work (in non-technical language)?

Eric: We use a spring in a proprietary geometry to provide lift and provide lateral stabilization with a mix of spring tension and variable degrees of freedom.

Our spring architecture is something originally developed for a camera stabilization system called the Steadicam -- we partnered with the Steadicam's inventor, Garrett Brown. That invention (with our improvements) does an amazing job of creating a "zero gravity" effect, essentially compensating for the spring forces as the arm moves. For someone in a wheelchair, that means the ability to move his/her arms freely with a fraction of the exertion otherwise required.

Gene: What kind of wheelchair users do you expect it to be helpful for?

Eric: We have not defined specific diagnostic presentations for which X-Ar is suited since our initial launch targeted for able bodied persons doing repetitive tasks in a variety of environments and industries. However, we have every reason to expect that X-Ar will provide great quality of life improvements for broad range of disabilities and impairments for both wheel chair users and ambulatory users. Some of the potential patient groups we are investigating including brain injury, stroke, MS, and Muscular Dystrophy.

Gene: How much (ballpark) do you expect it to cost?

Eric: Single arm systems will cost around $3-4,000.

Gene: Will it be going into clinical trials?

Eric: Yes. We are talking to strategic partners (including universities and hospitals) to help facilitate this next stage of development.

Gene: When do you expect it to be launched?

Eric: We are taking orders now for the first version of the X-Ar. Production Models will be available in 6-8 weeks.

Gene: Who can people contact for more information?

Eric: Info "AT" equiposinc "DOT" com or

Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cadence’s Kinetic Orthosis: It Looks Like An Exoskeleton, But It's Not

I have come across a new device which may be of interest to many wheelchair users interested in exoskeletons, called the "Cadence Kinetic Orthosis". At first glance, the frame of the Orthosis looks a bit like that of an exoskeleton. However, it works very differently. According to the company:

Cadence’s Kinetic Orthosis uses no motors or batteries to enable walking. Instead, it relies on a proprietary tuned system of cams and springs to capture energy during the beginning of a step, and then return that energy at the end of a step to amplify muscular strength and enable users to walk faster and walk longer.

As it requires no motors or batteries, it is alot simpler than current exoskeletons and will be alot less expensive. The question is, does it work? While I have been skeptical, I have had an email exchange with the CEO of Cadence, Brian Glaister, who has been kind enough to supply me with information about the product. Most recently, Brian supplied me with a press release stating that "a woman with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), was able to use Cadence’s Kinetic Orthosis to take her first steps on her own since 2005." Watch her walk using the new Orthosis. (Note, there is a person walking behind her, holding onto a strap just in case she were to fall, but she does not. You can see a hand in the video, but they are providing no support.)

Additional information about the Cadence "test pilot", Heather Montag:

Normally, Heather can walk for short durations if someone holds on to her hand for support. She has walked with the Kinetic Orthosis twice, and the first time she tried the device she was able to walk for over an hour with support. The second time she used the device, she decided to try to walk without support and was successful.

In addition, the new press release states "Cadence is currently recruiting additional test subjects for a research study further investigating the performance of the Kinetic Orthosis and is preparing to release the device to the marketplace in early 2012." So, if you would like to be involved in testing this new device, contact Cadence for more information. If you test their device, contact me as well (RehaDesign "AT" Gmail "DOT" com) because I would be interested in hearing about your experiences.

Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wheelchair Adventurer James Barnett Crashes In Seattle

James Barnett intended to travel by wheelchair from Canada to Mexico accompanied by his two sons on their bikes. Why? James had "a dream to take an adventure with his two sons". Being in a wheelchair did not matter. James is an adventurer and planned to have an adventure of a lifetime. James and his boys left Canada on 1 June in his wheelchair.

Unfortunately, James only got as far as Seattle before crashing and being hospitalized. James received serious injuries from his crash. After being rushed to the hospital doctors realized he also had severe pneumonia.

Ironically, prior to his trip, James and I had discussed him sharing some guest blog posts along his voyage on this Wheelchair Blog. It never happened. This was my last communication with James:

Date: Sunday, 1 May, 2011, 17:04


Sorry about the late reply, been so swarmed getting this trip planned and underway to launch June 1st. Would love to do a few posts leading up to the trip. Let us know what we need to do to get it going. I would love to do a post introducing people to me and my sons about my disease Muscular Dystrophy and why we are planning this trip. Then maybe a few days later do a post about where we are going for the trip and where it begins and ends and what really gave us the reason to push for this journey to happen. Then possibly along the journey on our down days when we are resting we could contact you about when a good time to do a post about how the journey is going so far and some pictures of the journey and such. Let me know what you think. Can't wait to hear from you.

-James Barnett

James: I wish you a speedy recovery and I hope that this is just a setback. I hope that one day you and your boys get a chance to fullfill your dreams. I admire your courage to share this adventure with your boys and your determination not let your disability stand in your way.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The 10 Rehab Centers Testing eLEGS Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users

Berkeley Bionics has announced the names of the US Rehab Centers involved in the clinical trials of eLEGS exoskeleton for wheelchair users.

•Craig Hospital, Englewood, CO
•Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network, Allentown, PA
•Kessler Foundation, West Orange, NJ
•Mount Sinai Medical Center, NY, NY
•RIM Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, Detroit, MI
•Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii
•Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA
•Shepherd Center, Atlanta, Georgia
•Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA
•TIRR Memorial Hermann, Houston, TX

It is interesting to see the how the clinics are geographically spread with 4 centers on the east coast, 2 in the south, 2 in the center, 1 on the west coast of the USA. In addition to geographical distribution as probable selection criteria, the CEO of Berkeley Bionics mentioned the status of the centers:

Five of the charter centers are among the top ten in the country, as ranked by US News' seminal annual report," explained Eythor Bender, CEO of Berkeley Bionics. "Other prestigious rankings come from the Spinal Cord Injury Model System Center, and of course, the NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) Center, funded by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation," he added.

It is well known that Moss Rehab of Elkins Park, PA was the center that conducted clinical trials for Argo Medical's ReWalk Exoskeleton. Thus the most experience with robotic exoskeletons for wheelchair users is currently on the east coast of the USA.

Read more about eLEGS exoskeleton for wheelchair users.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rex Exoskeletons For Wheelchair Users To Relocate Abroad

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you know that there are currently 4 leading exoskeletons for wheelchairs in various stages of development. Each of the manufacturers are headquarted in very distant corners of the world (USA, Japan, Israel and New Zealand).

Recently I came across an interesting article revealing that one of the manufactuers, Rex Bionics, may be forced to move in order to get the funding they need to continue.

According to CEO Jenny Morel:

The biggest issue here is the lack of funding in New Zealand. We would like to keep this company based here but the reality is the funding is overseas and it's very likely we'll be setting up a head office overseas and keeping our research and development here.

I wrote to my contact at Rex and he confirmed by writing "we always realised the New Zealand market was small and ultimately we would be looking offshore, that is what we are now doing."

While it is not clear where Rex will move, the most likely destinations would be either the USA or Europe. There would be arguments for both. Since funding seems to be the main reason to move, the logical destination would be the USA where venture capitalists are flush with cash to invest in cutting edge technology. This is where I would bet that Rex is headed. However, there are two important reasons for Rex to consider moving to Europe, both related to marketing issues rather than funding. First, no late stage exoskeleton is currently headquarted in Europe. Being headquarted in Europe would be a strong competitive advantage for a start-up company hoping to sell products there. The other reason for Rex to move to Europe is that, and I have no data to support this arguement, it seems to me that European health care systems are more liberal about spending money on technology for people with disabilities.

Where ever Rex ends up, I wish them the best. With its superior stability and the fact that it can used by Quads, the Rex Exoskeleton has an important place in this exciting market. Read more about Rex Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Spinal Implants Allow Paraplegic To Walk

There have been many announcements about exoskeletons allowing wheelchair users to walk. But the Lancet has reported how Rob Summers, a paraplegic has been enabled to stand again using an experimental procedure, devised primarily by UCLA neurobiologist V. Reggie Edgerton. According to MIT Technology Review:

The therapy consisted of a stimulator device originally designed to treat chronic pain, which was implanted near the spinal cord.

Watch Prof Susan Harkema, from Kentucky Spinal Cord Research Center discuss how this new procedure works:


This is still early days for this therapy and while it is hopeful that such stimulation can help, exoskeletons may be more likely to help in the short term. Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Affordable Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users?

Researchers from University of California at Berkeley (GO BEARS!) are working on a more affordable exoskeleton for wheelchair users. Now, these are not just any researchers. This team is headed by Prof Kazerooni. In case you do not know that name, Kazerooni is a GIANT in the exoskeleton industry having been the mastermind behind eLEGS and HULC exoskeleton. Look at what Kazerooni has to say about the new, more affordable "Austin Exoskeleton":

What distinguishes the Austin exoskeleton from the others out there is its simplicity for unsupervised in-home use and its lower cost,” said Kazerooni. “We made the conscious decision to only focus on key functions to keep the cost down. Users won’t be able to walk backward or climb ladders with the Austin exoskeleton, but what we sacrifice in capability, we gain in accessibility and affordability. Just getting people to be upright and take steps forward is already a huge advance in increasing independence.

Watch Austin Whitney, the guy who the exoskeleton is named for, walk during his graduation ceremony at UC Berkeley:

To be sure, the Austin Exoskeleton is years away from the market. But if anyone can make it happen it is Prof Kazerooni. Read more about Prof Kazerooni's eLEGS exoskeleton.

Monday, May 16, 2011

HAL Exoskeleton Should Be Demonstrated By Wheelchair Users

A new video from Cyberdyne displaying the HAL exoskeleton at a conference in Japan called “International Forum on Cybernics 2011” on 8th-9th of March 2011 has appeared on Youtube.

While the video of HAL shows impressive technology, what is disappointing is that, as usual HAL the exoskeleton is being demonstrated by young, attractive able-bodied people rather than people that the device was intended to help:

I certainly hope that as HAL and Cyberdyne become more international, that other people will influence the Japanese management and get real people with real disabilities to not only demonstrate the product but perhaps even work in the company and influence the direction of the corporation.

Read more about the HAL exoskeleton for wheelchair users.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Super Heros In Wheelchairs

Photo From Liquid Comics

I am delighted to see that attitudes towards people with disabilities are changing to the point that some Super Heros use wheelchairs. For example, Silver Scorpion is a new Super Hero who is a disabled muslim boy. According to this article in Time Magazine:

The Silver Scorpion is the brainchild of a group of young disability advocates from the U.S. and Syria. Brought together at the first international Youth Ability Summit in Damascus in August 2010, the attendees, who are all disabled, were asked to create a superhero who reflects what they have always wanted to see in a comic book.

But The Silver Scorpion is not the first Wheelchair Using Super Heros. Soldier Zero is an ex-marine who "While on a trip back home from Afghanistan his convoy was attacked by a bombing, which killed his entire team and also rendered him unable to walk!"

From 1966 to 1988, Barbara Gordon was the superheroine Batgirl; since 1989 she has been known as Oracle. In "Batman: The Killing Joke" Barbara was shot and and paralyzed by the Joker.

Takashi "Taki" Matsuya or sometimes called the Wiz Kid who "lost his parents and his ability to walk in a car accident".

The list of Super Heros in Wheelchairs go on. Why? Because comic book publishers are trying to creat characters with whom they can identify. Since 1% of the population uses wheelchairs, it makes sense that some of the Superheros should use them as well. Why don't Hollywood producers understand this when they use able-bodied actors to play the roles of wheelchair users?

Not all Superheros who use wheelchairs are fictional. Read about Aaron Fortheringham, the first person to do a backflip in a Wheelchair or Martin Braxenthalerthe the most successful mono-skier in the history.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pimped Out 2-Gear Wheelchair Wheels

Have a look at these cool camoflaged wheelchair wheels from Magic Wheels. You may not even notice that there is anything different about them until you look very closely. That is because they are camoflaged and they blend in so well with the grassy background. You may need to click on the image and expand it in order to see it more closely:

These cool camo wheels are owned by Micheal Beck of North Carolina. Beck was injured in a helicopter accident while in the Army. After an initial bout of depression, Micheal got married and lives a very active lifestyle. Micheal drags mustangs, flies a paraglider, coaches high school football, pilots a boat and hunts. The hunting, I imagine explains the cool camo wheels.

Beck's story of his injury and his come back is described beautifully in this blog post called Adapt and Overcome.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A New Exoskeleton Website is Launched In German Language

We are pleased to announce the fifth website with information about exoskeletons for wheelchair users. Previously we have announced websites in English, Spanish, French and Italian languages. Today we announce the launch of our German language website.

The website, named Exoskelett, is a translated version of our original English language website with all of the same news, information and updates for wheelchair users.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rex Bionics Sells First Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users

Rex Bionics has sent me a press release announcing their first exoskeleton sale. This exoskeleton was sold to a New Zealand Paralympian. I contacted Rex to clarify if it is their first sale or their first sale to a consumer, and was assured by Mike Steward at Rex "This was most certainly our first Rex sold to consumer or otherwise".


After unveiling the world's first robotic legs last year, Auckland based company Rex Bionics has made its first sale to Dave MacCalman, a New Zealand Paralympian.

The custom-fitted robotic exoskeleton has allowed Dave MacCalman, who sustained a spinal cord injury diving into a river while in the United States on a basketball scholarship, to take his first steps in more than 30 years.

“It is hard to describe what it has been like to be back on my feet again. I’m six-foot-four so it’s been amazing to experience life from that height again. I'm looking forward to taking my Rex home and being able to stand around and socialise with family and friends,” says Dave MacCalman.

The ex-Wellington basketball rep and Brisbane Bullets player enjoyed a successful basketball coaching career before deciding to become an elite sportsman again. Dave MacCalman broke a number of world records during his athletic career and represented New Zealand at four Paralympics and two World Athletic Championships, wining four Gold and four Silver medals. Dave captained the 1992 New Zealand Paralympic team to Barcelona and holds the current World Record for quadriplegic pentathlon. He became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000 for his services to disability sport.

Dave got in touch with Rex Bionics after seeing Rex on the news last year and was invited to trial the device.

“I was a little bit apprehensive getting into the Rex for the first time. The first few steps required intense concentration, but it was truly exhilarating and I was buzzing at the end of the first session,” says Dave.

“It’s like starting out in a wheelchair; you need to find out the limits of the device so that you can use it safely. I'm known to push my limits and I intend to use my Rex to its full potential."

Dave has now done hours of training familiarising himself with the machine. He will be required to do a few more hours of training before he gets to take his Rex home with him, but expects to be walking around his house, with the help of Rex, in a few weeks.

“We believe this is the first time in the world a robotic exoskeleton has been sold to a consumer. We are delighted to have made our first sale to such an incredible New Zealander,” says Jenny Morel, CEO of Rex Bionics.

“The team has put in a significant amount of work since the launch, getting the product market-ready, fine tuning and completing testing. Now we can’t wait to see how Dave integrates Rex into his social, work and home activities.”

Along with increased mobility, Dave believes the Rex will also improve his health and wellness through the movement and weight bearing it permits in his legs.

Speaking in support of the Rex Bionics invention Dr Cynthia Bennett, Clinical Head of Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit, says there are significant health and wellness benefits for Rex users.

“The obvious, immediate benefits of Rex include improved social interaction and standing mobility with access to objects above a seated level. In addition, numerous long term health and wellness benefits will occur by reducing the time spent sitting in a wheelchair.”

Each Rex is built onsite at the Rex Bionics’ Auckland plant. Rex has been designed to be practical, stable, safe, simple to use and sufficiently powered for a typical day of use thanks to a long-life rechargeable battery.

Read more about Rex Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users

Friday, April 29, 2011

Joining The Workforce With A Disability

This post is by our guest blogger Jennifer R. Resetar who tells us about:

Joining The Workforce
With A Disability

When most people go to work, they don’t think about much more than doing their job, getting a paycheck and then going home. Most people that work don’t have any type of disability. People with disabilities that work have a little more to think about: Will I be accommodated? Will my employer give me a chance to advance and grow? Will my coworkers see that I can work just as hard as they can? Will the costumers/guests/clients see that I am a valuable and hard worker at the company I represent? If, like me, your answer to most of these questions is “No”, then something should change. In this blog, I will share experiences from all of my jobs, some good, most painful. I write this blog because I want people to see that disabled people can be just as valuable an asset as anyone else in the workforce.

My first job began one week after Hurricane Charlie hit Florida. It was McDonald’s of Forrest City. I was 18 and had just graduated high school. My first two days; I trained on back cash, which is commonly referred to as drive thru. I was in the first window with my trainer Jason. They put me there because they knew of my disability and had a chair in there for me to sit down. But I had no prior cash handling experience and did pretty poorly. To top it off, my trainer was impatient and I told this to the manager, Carlos. He spoke to Jason, then moved me to sweeping floors and cleaning up after people. After a while I wanted another go at training on something else. I would ask another manager , Trudy if they would train me and she kept saying yes. It never happened. During my job at McDonald’s, I felt degraded and stereotyped because I felt that they thought as a disabled person, all I could do was sweep floors and clean up after people. I started looking for another job; especially one at Sea World as at the time, I thought working in a theme park would be fun as my natural uncle worked for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay for the first eight years of my life. I signed on with Quest Vocational Rehabilitation services which is a company that assists disabled people in finding and keeping a job. With the help of a gentleman named Carlos Jimanez, I landed a job at Sea World to start the day after my February 17 birthday. When I handed in my two week notice to Carlos at McDonald’s, they took me off the schedule early. I was unemployed for a week and a half.

My second and third jobs are with the same company so they will be in the same paragraph. My first position at Sea World was at Mama’s Kitchen, a restaurant now currently known as Artic Market. The supervisor was Cathy Hubbard, more about her later. I ended up doing the same thing I did at McDonald’s with a few new responsibilities added. At times I would help serve food on the counter and I would help serve food in the outside units surrounding the restaurant.

Cathy Hubbard a manager I had that I could not stand. One incident that still stays in my mind is the day I attended the wake of my husband’s maternal grandmother (who’s anniversary of death is coming up). He was my boyfriend at the time and newly so, so I decided I wanted to be there to support him and his family. I had the pleasure of meeting his grandmother one time before her death but it was still difficult. I have never been to any wake service or funeral service before that. When I returned to work after; as she was not part of my own family, I was still feeling the sadness of it. Cathy approached me and said something along the lines of “The guests think you look like you lost your best friend.” She said it in somewhat of a nasty way and I told her I just returned from a wake which she granted permission for me to go to.

In general, Cathy was always strict. As some of you may know, at one point Sea World was owned by Anheuser-Busch. When I worked their, August Busch III would occasionally visit the parks. When this happened, Cathy was at her worst, yelling at people and just plain being nasty . Eventually I began to refer to this situation as “Busch Freak Outs”.

Before I describe one funny experience I had at Sea World that involved a few stacks of trays , I will point out that I met my husband at Sea World and at the time we were dating . My husband and I were wiping them down and had already generated a few stacks of clean ones when I placed one on the stack and all of a sudden, the whole thing, both stacks of clean and dirty trays collapsed. One of the leads took a picture of it on her phone as we were all cracking up about it. She even showed it to Cathy who laughed for a change.

One good experience I had at Sea World started out with a bit of pain. I was suffering a major spasm in the corner of the restaurant when a guest approached me and said their table needed to be wiped down. I politely told her I was fighting a spasm but I would get over to her table as soon as I could. Instead of being nasty or inconsiderate about it, she said she understood and even helped me over to her table a little until the spasm finally died down. It was in Mama’s Kitchen I had my first brush of extreme physical pain. Eventually I asked for a transfer to a more sit down job. I also asked for the transfer to get away from Cathy.

The transfer I asked for led me to Discovery Cove and a restaurant called Laguna Grill. There I sat down, rolling silverware in the back of the restaurant. I had a supervisor named Paul Gober who was a great person for the most part. One good experience I remember here was being able to help another guest through the sand with his tray of food to a table. I somehow mentioned to him I have Cerebral palsy and he thought I was doing well and was very thankful and courteous to me.

After a few months of working at Discovery Cove with very few incidents that Cathy Hubbard became the supervisor of Laguna Grill. I forgot what happened to Paul, but I hated the fact that he had to leave to make way for Cathy. I feel if both of them were there, Paul would’ve been able to make things easier for me even in Cathy’s presence.

It was when Cathy Hubbard showed up at Discovery Cove that it was time for me to go. By now I no longer had Quest so I looked for another job on my own. I found Universal Orlando and started June 27, 2006. On my last day at Discovery Cove, I was trapped in the restaurant by a severe storm and in tears because I just wanted out.

At Universal, I finally got a job other than cleaning up after people and rolling silverware. I was a cashier for part of my time and a gameskeeper for part of my time. This is the most painful job to write about both physically and emotionally.

I started out at Marvel Superhero Island in front of the Hulk roller coaster at a cart that sold Hulk Merchandise. My trainer Moe who’s real name was Maureen was great. She treated me a lot better than Jason from McDonald’s.

It was after Marvel I ran into my hard times. I left Marvel because a new manager that reminded me every inch of Cathy Hubbard came on. I followed another manager named James Bryan that I thought was a nice guy to Amity Games. It was here in games that I ran into very inconsiderate guests and other issues.

There is one good experience I have to share during these tough times. Universal has a Diversity Team and during National Disability Employment Awareness Month one year, I was one of five people interviewed and photographed for a team member newsletter called Universal News. I was also on a panel consisting of the other four members of this Universal News segment where people that attended a Lunch and Learn were able to ask us questions. My husband was even allowed to attend this special session although he did not work for Universal.

One good experience I had in games was once I was full time, at the end of 2007, I was made an On The Job Trainer. The downside to this experience, I only had the position for two weeks.

Also in games, the guests constantly blamed me as the gameskeeper for the games being rigged when they lost when in truth the games were not rigged.

In the end, I left games to go back to merchandise. Again, I was outside and still had some rude guests who looked down on my constantly.

I had one guy who laughed at me one day in a store for the Twister…Ride it Out attraction. He asked me about the ride and I admitted I could not get on it because of a bad fear of fire. He did not know that it stemmed from something my younger brother did to me when we were very young. I was still upset that he laughed at me.

On the bright side, however, I had some very considerate guests and even a guest who handed me his rap CD which the songs are on my iPhone to this day and it was about two years ago.

The most painful part of my job at Universal Orlando, was being terminated the day after my mother’s birthday for something I believe could have been fixed if they had listened to me. I asked numerous times to be put indoors and they said no so I was outside in the cold, the heat, the rain, etc.

The exact details of my termination are painful for me to describe but are as follows. I was working outside as usual on my mother’s January 10 birthday and the weather was overcast but not too hot and not too cold. I made a few successful sales. The actual guest that caused my termination perceived me being rude to him when I asked him if he would come around to tmy left side. I did this because I cannot see on my right side and felt I could serve him better from my left side. I was told by my HR representative that this particular guest said I was rude. I had no reason to be rude and thinking back on it, I believe I was suffering extra physical pain due to the extreme cold snap we had about a day or two prior and it showed in my voice without my knowing it. I was sent home early that day and brought in at 2:00 P.M. the following day, January 11. Because of other incidents I’ve had they terminated me. Looking back on it, all of the incidents I had took place outdoors except for one that they sided with me on because they realized I was not yelling at the guest, but trying to solve the bigger problem of the situation that had occurred. In this situation, a lady came into the Aftermath store which is the gift shop to the Twister…Ride It Out attraction and asked me if I sold cigarettes. I said no, as we did not sell them at the time. Then I proceeded to ask her who told her that we sold cigarettes so I could have that person informed correctly and save future guests an unnecessary trip. This guest was given four express passes and I was suspended for a day and a half before my week long vacation to visit my mother. In the end, I was paid for this suspension and given a Back To Basics class for something I never did.

Now that Universal let me go I’m a happier person and their terminating me has led to many good events in my life including writing these blogs for

If you are disabled and work, please know no matter how worthless your management team, coworkers or guests might make you feel, you are still worth something and are better than what they think because they don’t know the true you. They just see your disability and stop there. Most of the experiences I had in this blog, anyone may have had, but the bad ones were harder for me. Companies like McDonald’s, Sea World, and Universal are just ruthless and only care about the money. They don’t care about the people that bring in those profits, the busers, patio people, cashiers, and gamekeepers. They are the front lines and if this blog touches any manager of a high ranking company and gets them to change their ways, I’m happy. It needs to be said and heard.

101 Year Old Wins Wheelchair Discrimination Complaint

According to a story published by CBS Local News a 99 year old Nettie Lobsenz was refused service by a NYC salon on Amsterdam Avenue because she was in a wheelchair. The salon said it was because of liability risk. Her daughter, Juliette Gould didn't buy it and made a complaint to the NYC Human Rights Commission. The committe agreed that it was discrimination and awarded Nettie and Juliette $7,500.

Another term of the settlement is that the salon has to post a sign saying it welcomes disabled customers within 30 days. So, if you are in NYC, go by the Amsterdam Avenue salon and see if the sign is there. If it is not, make a complaint. You too may win $7,500!!

What should you do if you are a wheelchair user and have experienced discrimination? See this interview with a disability attorney about disability law.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Listen To My Exoskeleton Interview!

I was interviewed live last Monday by Lon Thornburg the Author of the No Limits to Learning Blog. Our interview covered subjects including "How did I get started building the Exoskeleton Website?", and "What is the difference between the exoskeletons?" to "What are the opportunities and threats for exoskeletons?"

The interview has been archived and you can listen to it at anytime.

It was my first live interview and I found it a fun and facinating experience. I was a bit nervous going into it, but speaking with Lon made it quite comfortable.

Friday, April 22, 2011

UK Wheelchair Users To Pay GBP 50'000 For ReWalk Exoskeleton

According to an article in the Daily Mail Argo Medical will launch a model of ReWalk Exoskeleton for wheelchair users for home use in 2012. The personal use exoskeleton will cost £50,000 or significantly less than what the cost of the institutional model of ReWalk Exoskeleton.

Towards the end of this year we shall have a personal model that will be tailored to match an individual's physical capability, following medical assessment and training in a rehabilitation centre.

Initial efforts will be towards the military:

It would be fantastic for people returning injured from Afghanistan to find they're not stuck as a paraplegic

Read more about ReWalk Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users or watch a video of ReWalk at the exhibition in Birmingham, UK

Monday, April 18, 2011

IHMC Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users: Project Mina

I have come across a new exoskeleton which is being developed by the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) called project MINA. Watch these cool videos of wheelchair users who have used Mina. Listen to what they say about having the opportunity to walk using an exoskeleton.

I contacted Peter Neuhaus the principal investigator for Project Mina to find out more about the goals and expectations for Project Mina.

* What stage is Mina in? Is Mina in Clinical Trials?

As you see from the video we have evaluated Mina v0 with 2 paraplegic people. We are now working on Mina v1. We will not be conducting clinical trials with v0.

* When do you expect it to be on the market?

Marketing Mina is not in our sights. We are focused on advancing the mobility assistance technology.

* How is Mina controlled?

The low level motor control is provided by an on board embedded computer system. The high level control is provided by an off board computer controlled by a human operator. In other words, the user does not have direct control over the stepping. Through words and gestures, the user is able to give cues and commands to the operator. We selected this temporary method of control for its ease of implementation. When walking on flat ground, the only control input from the user that we really needed was start and stop. Our current research efforts include developing a user interface to give the user direct control over the operation of the device. As we develop capabilities beyond walking on flat ground, a more sophisticated user interface will be required.

* It seems that Mina is tethered, is that correct?

Mina is currently tethered for power and high level control and data exchange over an Ethernet cable. Mina v1 will have the ability to run untethered for autonomous power and control operation.

* How will Mina differ from the other exoskletons (Hal, Rex, eLEGS and Rewalk) which will soon be coming to market?

Mina v0 does not offer advantages over the ones you have listed. Our research with Mina v1 will focus on usability, performance capabilities, operation over irregular terrain, and operation with a range of users, from paralyzed to able-bodied.

* Will IHMC commercialize Mina, or are you collaborating with a private company for that?

IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute and we will not be commercializing it. Our goals are to advance the field of mobility assist devices while at the same time protecting our intellectual property. When the time is right, we will license or spin-off our technology for commercial purposes.

While Project Mina may never be commercialized, you can read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users which will soon be on the market on the Exoskeleton Website.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spanish Review Of RehaDesign Wheelchair "Zapatillas"

Alex from did a review of RehaDesign wheelchair tire covers. While my Spanish is not really very good, I was able to understand his review with the help of Google Translator. One thing that Alex points out is that they "are elastic and even someone with very little strength is able to put them without help". Another thing he mentions is that there is little or no slippage. This is thanks to a foam type material on the inside of the covers which holds tightly to the wheels.

Read the review in Spanish, or see the English website for more information about RehaDesign Wheelchair Tire Covers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Watch Wheelchair User Brock Waidmann In The Paul Reiser Show

Actor and wheelchair user Brock Waidmann will soon be appearing on the new Paul Reiser Show. The Paul Reiser Show, featuring the star of TV's "Mad About You" will debut on Thurs, April 14th on NBC.

What is unique about this show, is that while most Hollywood productions, such as the ever popular "Glee", use able-bodied actors to portray disabled characters, Paul Reiser chose Brock Waidmann, a real wheelchair user to play his son on the show.

We did an interview with Brock Waidmann sometime ago to get to know him better. Read that interview to see how delightful Brock is. Read it and I bet that like me, you will also feel that Brock deserves every success.

I hope that everyone who reads this will pass the word to watch the premier of The Paul Reiser Show and give Brock Waidmann as much support and encouragement as possible.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

October 2011: International Wheelchair Marathon Heidelberg, Germany

Photo by Norbert Wilhelmi

The Heidelberg International Wheelchair Marathon will be an autumn race this year – the start will be moved from the traditional date in summer to Sunday 9th October 2011 (11.00 am-Marathon Start, 9am Welcome Address). The reason for the delay is that parts of the course are still under construction. Where the diggers are working at the moment, the fastest hand-bikers will be speeding between Heidelberg and Neckargemünd this year. The round course (44 km) can only be opened for the athletes after completion of the road construction.

The course remains the same. Start and Finish will be on the banks of the river Neckar, the distance will be 44 km, the same as in the past years, including time measurement at the marathon point 42.195 km.

Photo by Norbert Wilhelmi

Many hundred sports people are expected again, hand-biker, sports people in their racing bikes, children and youths (“Mobifant Cup”) and everyday sports people. They are especially invited this year: The Heidelberg Wheelchair Marathon does not only want to present only top sport (the race is part of the Handbike-City-Trophy) but also wants to attract many hobby sportsmen. Add-on-bikes can be found in the garage of nearly everybody in a wheelchair, and with this sport equipment it is very inviting to take part in the half marathon on the flat course along the river Neckar. The organizing team with their new chairman of the “Heidelberg Wheelchair Marathon e.V.” Joachim Schermuly would like to more than double the number of add-on-bikes which was 18 in 2009. The aim is 50 athletes in this racing class.

Photo by Norbert Wilhelmi

Inline skaters will also be at the start in October, the organizer hope to have dry weather and rapid overtaking maneuvers.

Photo by Norbert Wilhelmi

Around the race there will be an extensive program – with live music, information and the traditional noodle party.

In this respect everything is prepared for the 11th Wheelchair Marathon and – who knows – maybe also for a new course and world record. After all, in October the asphalt will in parts be as smooth as never before – the road construction works which will be finished by then will make it possible!

More information, the invitation and the registration for can be found on the internet at the official website for the Wheelchair Marathon of Heidelberg.

The 2009 Winners
Photo by Norbert Wilhelmi

I asked one of the organizers, Matthias Methner a few questions about the event:

Gene: When was the first Marathon? Is there a Marathon every year?

Matthias: The first Marathon was in 1989 and it takes place every two years (that means in 2009, 20 years after the first Marathon we had the 10th Marathon. This year we will have the 11th Marathon!)

Gene: How interenational is the Marathon? From which countries do you expect participants?

Matthias: The Marathon really is internationl - every year we get participants from all over Europe (The Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic, Poland etc), and also overseas (including America, Japan, Algeria, etc). I can not say from what countries participants will come from this year, because the registration is ongoing.

Gene: Are there people who speak English in the organization? Is the organization prepared to communicate with the foreign participants?

Matthias: We have members who speak fluent English and French. So communication with the participants will not be a problem.

Gene: How much does it cost to participate?

The 2009 Winners
Photo by Norbert Wilhelmi

* For the Full Marathon distance until 30.6.11 the cost is 30 Euro, after 1.7.11 the cost is 40 Euro
* For Half Marathon distance until 30.6.11 the cost is 15 Euro, after 1.7.11 the cost is 20 Euro
* For Children until 30.6.11 the cost is 5 Euro after 1.7.11 the cost is 10 euro

More information, the invitation and the registration for can be found on the internet at the official website for the Wheelchair Marathon of Heidelberg.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Discrimination Affects Everyone

This guest blog was written by Jennifer R. Resetar. This is Jennifer's third guest post on the WheelchairPride Blog. In this post Jennifer discusses how,

Discrimination Affects Everyone

Before I begin my blog, I would like to say that Mid Florida Tech is in no way at fault for the incident of discrimination described below. In fact, they had a sign posted by the instigator of the incident removed after I reported the incident.

When you think of discrimination, do you think of the 1940s-1960s when African Americans and Caucasians were segregated? Discrimination did not end with segregation ending. It is still a part of our lives even now in the 21st century, the age of iPADs, iPhones, and other modern pieces of our culture. It does not just extend to race or disability or sexual orientation. I would like to share an incident of discrimination that happened to me recently.

On St. Patrick’s Day; March 17, 2011, I was at school, exploring a building I did not know yet before class when I discovered a sign posted by AT&T announcing a job offer. The sign stated that no experience was required for a costumer service position and two other positions listed. There was a phone number belonging to a lady named Brittany. I decided to call the number and was answered by a lady named Mindy. I told her I had found the sign posted in Mid Florida Tech.

“Would you like to set something up with one of our hiring managers?” Mindy asked me.
“Yes, but first, I need to know exactly where you are. I use public transportation,” I replied. This is where it all started.
“Oh, I’m sorry. We cannot hire you unless you have your own vehicle. You must have reliable transportation,” Mindy said.
This incident did not involve my disability in any way, it involved my means of transportation.

My Ride

The transportation that I use is the LYNX buses of Orlando, Florida. Many able bodied people including people in business suits, young and expectant mothers and children use these buses as their means of transportation. The buses are also wheelchair accessible with lifts built into the steps leading onto the bus. Some newer models display things in the form of a ticker such as when a bus is approaching a bus stop that transfers to other buses for the hearing impaired and it calls out these stops as well and it also calls out when someone has pulled for a stop by saying “Stop requested”.

As I have mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have Cerebral palsy and due to this condition, I can not drive and I will never own my own vehicle. Therefore, AT&T’s policy is a form of discrimination because by excluding people who use public transportation many people with disabilities like myself are excluded from working there.

Based on this information, AT&T could have discriminated against a number of students at Mid Florida Tech because there are a large number that use the same transportation that I use. I dealt with this incident by reporting it to Mid Florida Tech’s Dean of Students and returned the next day to find the sign removed before I could get a picture of it. The twist to this entire incident is that AT&T also happens to be my phone provider. Mindy did not know this. I did attempt to contact AT&T about this incident that afternoon but, unfortunately, I have not heard back from them.

As this incident shows, discrimination can happen to anyone, anywhere. It is a sad epidemic, much like that of bullying for children. In fact, I believe that the two are very similar. The only difference is, that children don’t really know any better until they’re old enough to understand the differences that people have, whereas adults should already know that everyone is different, or may use a different form of transportation to reach their destinations. What would they say for instance, if someone told them that they live close enough to where they can ride a bicycle to work? Will AT&T still say no? What if someone walks to work? We may never know the answers to these two questions, but now we know that if you live in Orlando and use LYNX to get where you need to go, AT&T will not want you on their staff. I am not trying to bash them in any way, but I wish the people that made this decision would open their eyes to the other forms of transportation out there other than cars and motorcycles. Mindy may not have had a say in that decision and must’ve just been stuck with the job of being the bearer of bad news; I may never know.

If you have been discriminated against for any reason, please, do not hesitate to tell someone. It is wrong and if the person who discriminated against you can see that what they did is wrong, it may be one less person in the world who will discriminate against another human being.If we can stop this epidemic, that will be one less thing we have to worry about in this world full of tough times and war.


I would like to thank Jennifer for her blog post. Read more about the subject of disability discrimination.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Should You Pimp Your Wheelchair?

I wrote an article called Pimp My Wheelchair, with ideas and suggestions about how to turn a wheelchair from a dull ride to a cool, stylish and yes blinged out wheelchair. In the article readers have the opportunity to express their opiniono about if they "Think It is a Good Idea to Pimp A Wheelchair?"

While many readers agree, recently one reader expressed an opinion that I have often heard:

In some respects, it would be ok, but I get ENOUGH attention when I'm using my wheelchair. "pimping it out" would just draw more, and I don't necessarily like being in the spotlight for that.

She expressed what many wheelchair users feel but perhaps don't want to say. The fact is that people DO stare at wheelchair users. Why? Curiosity? Pity? Being nosey?

People stare because they simply don't know enough about something. Years ago people used to stare when they saw an interacial couple. Or they would stare are someone with alot of tatoos or with dyed hair. Once everything becomes common place or "normal" people stop staring.

I think that it is healthy to express your individuality. It is not like you are rolling down the street wearing footed pajamas for adults. Show people that you are you and that your wheelchair is part of who you are. If enough people did it, the days of staring at wheelchair users would probably pass.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Italian Exoskeleton Website For Wheelchair Users

We are happy to announce our fourth Exoskeleton website has been launched, in Italian language. Earlier we announced the launch of the original English language exoskeleton site, then the launch of a French and Spanish translation. Now we are pleased to announce that our Italian language exoskeleton website is now live.

The new website is named Esoscheletro and like the other websites, Exoscheletro offers news, information and updates about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Wheelchair For Your Dog Or Cat?

You may have thought that wheelchairs were just for people. If you did, you would be wrong. Many dogs and cats become disabled, mostly due to being hit by cars. But diseases and other animals can cause disabilities as well.

Check out these dog wheelchairs.

Here is a home video of Toby the Dog:

And a tiny little Poodle in a wheelchair

But it is not just dogs that use wheelchairs. Check out this cat in a wheelchair:

Scooter the cat in her cat wheelchair

I think that this is great. However, I have seen alot of homemade wheelchairs and I am not sure that is the best approach. If you are going to put your animal in a wheelchair, try to get one which has been professionally made to fit an animal. There are several companies which make and distribute wheelchairs which have been professionally designed for a pet. A professionally made animal wheelchair will be made by someone who has made many wheelchairs before yours. They will know what works and how to fit your dog or cat. It is the humane thing to do.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Challenges of Returning To School At 25 And With A Disability

Today's post is the second from guest blogger Jennifer R. Resetar. In her first post, Jennifer told us about Born and Diagnosed With Cerebral Palsy. Today she writes about;

The Challenges of Returning To School
At 25 And With A Disability

Most people graduate high school at the age of 18, give or take. I graduated at 18, but I did not receive the traditional High School Diploma. Due to issues with the math portion of the Florida Comprehension Assessment Test or FCAT for short, I graduated with something called a Certificate of Completion.

The following year, at the age of 19 and engaged to be married, I attempted the math FCAT one more time after taking a new math class at my high school. This was my seventh attempt and I failed. After that, I put passing any math test out of my mind for the next four years.

Then, on March 7, 2011, I started school at Mid Florida Tech. Now I am 25, have been married for over four years, and have recently left a job that I held for four and a half years at the employer’s request. My husband and mother began to encourage me to go back to school to earn my GED. I took the placement test at the end of February and found that my reading and writing scores were very high, but of course, my math computation score was very low.

Due to the low math score, I was directed to a math comprehension class taught by Ms. Marilyn Spence. By the end of my first week, Ms. Spence has told me I may only be in her class for a few more weeks. Once I complete her class, I will retake the placement test. If I score at a 9.0 or higher, I will move to a GED Prep class taught by an instructor named Mr. Edward Kite. He will then help me to prepare for the actual GED Test; the reading, writing, math, science and social studies sections. I am unsure at this point how long I will be in his class, Once I finish, I will then register and my mother-in-law will pay $70.00 for me to take the actual GED Test. If I pass this test, I will graduate with my GED and will hopefully go on to get my degree in Creative Writing by hopefully qualifying for grants.

The challenges that I face as a student at Mid Florida Tech, a technical college established in 1963 and kept well preserved through the years, are as a married woman, I feel awkward from time to time. Also, I am the only student with a disability in my particular class, but I am not the only disabled student at MFT. I have seen one student that uses Canadian crutches, another student that uses a wheelchair and several hearing impaired students. There are plenty of ramps and elevators around campus for the physically challenged students and plenty of American Sign Language interpreters for the hearing impaired students.

I am able to use the two stairwells in my two story building and I do not require any special assistance. A challenge I do face in class is as follows: my class is exactly three hours long and I have trouble keeping up energy on my own sometimes, so to remedy this, my instructor, Ms. Spence, has allowed me to bring bags of saltine crackers to class. If I feel hungry, I just have to let her know that I need to step out into the hallway and she realizes this means I need to eat to regain lost energy.

Another suggestion she made is knowing the pain that Cerebral palsy causes me, she allows me to get up and walk around when needed to alleviate some of that pain.

With the people at Mid Florida Tech, I feel well accepted and welcomed, a feeling I didn’t know existed for four and a half years of working for my previous employer. Going back to school has given me more confidence in myself and more determination to complete my future endeavors.

My advice for anyone that thinks they’re too old to go back to school or for anyone that thinks they can’t do it because of a disability, you are NOT too old to go back to school and your disability should NOT be a factor. Getting your education and moving forward in life to bigger and better things should outweigh any challenges you may face. A friend once told me that determination comes from self motivation. I believe that this means if you are a very self motivated person, you are very determined in life. I tend to be this type of person and I believe that in order to succeed in life, you need to have these traits in your personality.

As a married, disabled woman, going back to school does not have as many challenges for me as I once thought it would. It has more pros than cons for me and I am sincerely grateful that I took this step.

I owe a sincere thank you to my husband, my mother and my father for their undying support and encouragement.


If you would like to be a guest blogger, contact us: RehaDesign "AT" Gmail "Dot" com

Friday, March 18, 2011

Update on ReWalk Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users

Technion is the University from which ReWalk developer Amit Goffer obtained his BSc (Bachelors of Science Degree). It is also the oldest university in Israel. From the Technion Website "Technion graduates comprise the majority of Israeli-educated scientists and engineers, constituting over 70% of the country's founders and managers of high-tech industries".

Technion also is part of The Technion seed fund, which includes four different venture capital. The Technion seed fund partnered with Argo Medical, invested money and gave the embryonic company the facilities to develop ReWalk.
Barbara Frank from Technion has published an article which gives more details about the history of ReWalk and some hints about the future of ReWalk. For example, her article reveals that by the end of 2011, a personal use model of ReWalk exoskeleton will be launched and that ReWalk is already planning to develop an exoskeleton for Quads. Very good news indeed.

Read more about ReWalk Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wheelchair Safety Tips: What To Carry In Your Wheelchair Backpack

Many wheelchair users carry a wheelchair backpack. But what do you keep inside of your wheelchair backpack?

We have developed a checklist of things to consider including in your wheelchair backpack and perhaps more importantly, things to consider EXCLUDING from your wheelchair backpack.

See the article Wheelchair Safety Tips: What To Carry In Your Wheelchair Backpack.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hal Exoskeleton Helps Quadriplegic Wheelchair Users To Walk Again

Euronews presented an interesting video about a Japanese wheelchair user who regained the ability to walk by using the HAL exoskeleton.

As you will see in the video the wheelchair user, Masohero is a quadriplegic from a car accident 12 years ago. He says just after the accident he was completley paralyzed. Later, he was able to regain some movement in his right side, but his left side could not move at all. Last summer he started to exercize using HAL one hour per day.

After using HAL, there is hardly any difference between his left and right side. As you can see in the video, now he can walk without HAL by using only a walker. Pretty spectacular progress.

Notice that he is held up using a ceiling lift. This is because the HAL exoskeleton does not have the ability yet to hold itself.

Read more about HAL exoskeleton for wheelchair users on the Exoskeleton Website.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wheelchair Backpack: Check Out This Cool New Design!

If you are looking for a new wheelchair backpack, check out the RehaDesign Wheelchair Backpack.

RehaDesign Wheelchair backpack was designed to look cool and be easy to use. RehaDesign Stash and Flash wheelchair backpack is made from a water resistant material to protect your gear incase you get caught in the rain. This wheelchair backpack fits any wheelchair with a backrest between 14 and 18 inches wide (35 - 46 cm) without rubbing against the wheels, no adjustment necessary. It does not matter if there are push handles or not.

There are netted pockets on the sides of the wheelchair backpack for easy access and zipped pockets for a bit more security. Finger loops on the zips will assist quads and those with less finger mobility to open the pockets. The finger loops can also be cut away if not needed.

Safety has not been forgotten. A subtle reflective strip has been built into all RehaDesign Stash and Flash Wheelchair Backpacks. Inconspicuous during daylight hours, the reflective strip will light up when a light shines on it. Want even more bling and safety? Order an optional reflective tribal design. Only with RehaDesign Stash and Flash Wheelchair Backpack, can you choose your wheelchair backpack with a cool reflective tribal dragon or tribal heart design.

So, if you are in the market for a cool new wheelchair backpack, check out the new RehaDesign Stash and Flash Wheelchair Backpack

Friday, March 4, 2011

Born and Diagnosed With Cerebral Palsy

Today's post was written by guest blogger Jennifer R. Resetar

Born and Diagnosed With Cerebral Palsy

On February 17, 1986, I was born to David and Sabrina Ysidron at Tampa General Hospital in Tampa, Florida. Throughout my life, I was told that my birth was a difficult one. I was also told that I’ve lost oxygen to my brain for a few minutes. At the time, I was not diagnosed with any birth conditions, but overtime, my adoptive parents, Dave and Jeannie Locklear, noticed I was not reaching certain milestones that other babies might have reached. In June of 1986, I was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy.

Most babies learn to walk within their first year. I learned to walk when I was three years old. Most parents have the great privilege of teaching their children how to walk whereas I was taught by the staff at the Tampa, Florida branch of the United Cerebral Palsy. I’ve been told by a family member that I did not learn how to talk until I was at least four or five years old. Now I am fluent in English, Spanish and basic French. I am also able to pick up on the other Latin based languages such as Italian and Portuguese. I can also speak a few words in Chinese with the help of a book that I have that labels the chapters in English and Chinese.

Once I was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy, I went to physical therapy quite often as a young child. This is where the United Cerebral palsy comes into my life. They helped me with everything from crawling to walking. To this day, I still communicate with the Central Florida Chapter of the UCP.

Having to learn things the hard way has taught me at a young age that very few things in life are easy. I’ve had to grow up at a young age and overtime, I have become sensitive to the trials of life and I understand when someone is going through a difficult time. Being born and diagnosed with Cerebral palsy has given me the natural ability to be able to help others and understand their feelings.

Thanks to Jennifer for this guest blog. If you would like to guest blog for, please contact Gene at RehaDesign "AT"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tibion's Exoskeleton: Video Demonstration

This is a video demonstration of a journalist testing a leg exoskeleton. Unlike Hal, Rewalk, Rex and eLegs, this type of exoskeleton is not meant to be used permanently, but rather as a training device to be used in rehab centers and help people with strokes to improve their ability to walk.

You can read the article that the journalist shown in the video wrote for xconomy.

As I watch this video, I am reminded of the mobile telephones of the 1990's which were so big you had to carry them around in a huge case. If you forgot what that looked like, watch this Radio Shack Commercial

Just a decade ago, mobile phones were huge and clunky, but seemed very futuristic. Today, this seems almost laughable.

Similarly in just a decade ago, the large, clunky, noisy exoskeletons of today will be obsolete. Exoskeletons will be small enough to wear under loose fitting clothing.

More information about exoskeletons for wheelchair users can be found on the Exoskeleton website.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Video: HAL Exoskeleton For Wheelchair Users

How Does The HAL Exoskeleton Work?

If you are wondering how the HAL exoskeleton for wheelchair users work, watch this video. It is probably the best video report I have seen which offers and overview of the function and marketing of the HAL exoskeleton for wheelchair users.

Read more about the Hal Exoskeleton For Wheelchair users on the Exoskeleton website.