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?