Friday, December 21, 2012

TSA Detains 12 Year Old Wheelchair User

I get the need for airport security, I really do. I am pleased that they are screening the bad guys and keeping them off the airplanes. But frankly, this is no excuse for abusing a 12 year old wheelchair user for nearly an hour: What is particularly annoying is that this sick little girl was isolated from her mother and left in a fairly stressful situation. This is not the way to handle cases like this and I do hope that TSA can work to improve its terrible public image.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nursing Home Abuse

How is the nursing home treating your mother or father? Watch what these children learned after installing a so-called "Nanny Cam" to monitor their care of their loved one. This may be hard to watch:

Bottom line: Do NOT trust every nursing home to have the best interest of your loved one at heart. If you see bruises or scratches or notice things missing from their room, be suspicious.

Senate Kills Disabilities Treaty

Even though a bipartisan group lobbied for the passage of a UN Disability Treaty, the US Senate failed to pass it. The treaty required a 2/3 majority to pass, but got only 61 votes, five short of the votes needed for passage. Proponents said that which has been signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126 countries, say that the treaty would help to bring the rest of the world up to US levels of support for people with disabilities. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole visited in his wheelchair to encourage republican support. But even he could not muster the support necessary. All 38 votes against ratifying the treaty were cast by republicans as can be seen in the official vote count from the US senate website. Only 8 republican senators, including John McCain, voted in favor of ratifying the treaty.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Ideas For An Active Wheelchair User

Are you gift shopping for an active wheelchair user? Someone who is in a wheelchair, but otherwise healthy, active and on the go? Would you like to find a gift which would enhance their active lifestyle? Here are a few gift ideas: * Wheelchair Gloves are an excellent gift idea for a wheelchair user who leads an active lifestyle. Wheelchair gloves not only improve grip on the pushrim, they help to protect the hands from damage and possible injury. * Wheelchair Umbrella: What does a wheelchair user do when it rains? They get wet, usually. While able bodied people carry an umbrella, active wheelchair users must use their hands to push the wheelchair. So, what is the alternative? The Brella Buddy Hands Free Umbrella Holder allows the wheelchair user to wear the umbrella on their body. The Square A Sol Umbrella works nicely with the Brella Buddy, because it is collapsible, easily stowed in the Brella Buddy and has an extra-long stem. * If your wheelchair user is out and about all day and all night, consider a gift of visibility. wUnderGlow Wheelchair Light and Wheels On Fire Wheelchair Reflectors help to make the wheelchair more visible at night. Still looking for gifts for your wheelchair user? Consider these wheelchair gift ideas.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Gift Ideas For A Young Wheelchair User

Are you shopping for a Christmas Gift Idea for a child who uses a wheelchair? Here are a few ideas which may help. Wheelchair Arm Rest Pets are a combination of armrest covers and plush toys (stuffed animals). These pets attach to any wheelchair armrests 12 inches (30.5cm) or less. They are available as rabbits, hippos, frogs, ducks and all kinds of other creatures, making the wheelchair a warmer, more friendly place to be. Turn any wheelchair into a petting zoo with Wheelchair Armrest Pets. Another cool gift for a child who uses a wheelchair is wUnderGlow, the fun wheelchair light makes the wheelchair user more visible at night, for improved night time safety. Or it can adds a bit of fun by giving a cool "underglow effect" to the wheelchair as seen in the video below:
In addition, there are a variety of wheelchair toys on the market, such as Doll named Beckie, who is essentially a Barbie Doll in a wheelchair. If none of those ideas work for you, check out these gift ideas for wheelchair users.

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Boy Started Stuttering

My little three year old boy started stuttering recently. I am not talking about an occasional stammer, I mean he sometimes repeats a word or syllable 10 or 20 times until the rest of the sentence finally comes exploding from his lips. I remember the moment, just a couple of weeks ago when it started, I looked at my wife and she looked back at me and we both had the same puzzled expression. Neither of us said much. First it was just a few words like You-You-You and then it got to be more and more noticeable. Some days he can barely make a sentence, some days it is hardly noticeable at all. But all of this started just two or three weeks ago.

We began to wonder if we did something that caused his stuttering. We questioned everything, from family related stress to traveling to a fever he recently had. Of course we searched online about toddlers who stammer and everything we read reassures us that stuttering in toddlers, particularly boys, is quite frequent and often goes away after a few months. Apparently stuttering in childhood often happens because the babies' language abilities are developing faster than the language center of their brains can handle. On the otherhand, I know that stuttering is something that the medical world knows next to nothing about. What causes stuttering? What is the best approach to stuttering? Will my baby stop stuttering? No one can answer these questions yet. So for now we do not know if this is a temporary thing or the beginning of a long journey.

We have discussed with his pediatrician and soon we will visit a specialist. But I suspect the final answer will be to watch and wait.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Swiss Scientists Teach Paralyzed Rats To Walk

Swiss Scientists used a mixture of devices, drugs, training and therapy to get paralyzed rats to walk and even run again.

What happened to the rats?

Ten rats were paralyzed at the beginning of the study. Their spinal cords were partially severed at two separate but neighboring sites.

What did the scientists use to get the rats to walk?

  • Serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine were injected into the spinal cord.
  • A set of electrodes supplied a continuous flow of electrical energy near the site of the break in the spinal cord to stimulate the regrowth of the neural cells. Another device supported the rats and taught the legs to move.
  • A training course was used as therapy.

What was the result?

Amazingly after 10 weeks, all ten walked again!

Read more about this study, or read about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Angel Faces : For Girls With Severe Facial Burns

 Although this blog is dedicated to wheelchairs and wheelchair users, sometimes I come across another disability issue that is so important, I feel compelled to help spread the word. Recently I stumbled upon an organization called "Angel Faces" which " is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide healing retreats and ongoing support for adolescent girls with burn/trauma injuries".

The head of Angel Faces, Lesia Cartelli, was burnt on 50% of her face and body from a gas explosion at the age of nine. Lesia organizes retreats for young girls who have also been burned. The purpose of these retreats is to help girls, aged 11-19 to become more self-confident and improve their self-image. You can read more about Angel Faces in this article in  Washington Post or by watching an interview with Leisa:

Or by visiting the Angel Faces Website. You can also help Angel Faces achieve their goals without spending any money at all. Simply use Good Search and nominate Angel Faces as your beneficiary. For every Good Search you do, Angel Faces will receive 1 cent!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wheelchair Bound: An Offensive Term?

For years many have written that the term "wheelchair bound" is offensive. The BBC did a survey and found that "wheelchair bound" is one of the top 10 offensive words used to describe people with disabilities. Yet journalists continue to use it daily. Don't believe me? Simply do a Google News search. Why does the situation never change? Perhaps not enough people really care? Do You? Read this article about "Wheelchair Bound" and voice your opinion.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Wheelchair Rain Ideas

What does a wheelchair user do when it rains? They get very, very wet. It is difficult for manual wheelchair users to stay dry in the rain because a wheelchair users hands are busy pushing the wheelchair and can not hold a standard umbrella. There have been several unique products invented to keep wheelchair users dry when it rains. But they most typical are ponchos designed for wheelchair users and hands-free umbrella holders. Both are discussed in this article about wheelchair rain ideas.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dog Poop On Your Wheelchair Wheels?

Dog Poop is probably a wheelchair users biggest enemy. Often camouflaged as a stick or simply unavoidable on a sidewalk or wheelchair ramp, probably every wheelchair user has had the unpleasant experience of rolling through dog poop. Watch this angry rant from one wheelchair user who has had his share of dog poop on his wheelchair tires:

So, what is the solution for dog poop? Like the guy the in the video above, consider washable wheelchair gloves to keep your hands free from dog poop.

And think about getting a pair of wheelchair tire covers to prevent the dog poop on wheelchair tires from getting onto your clean floors and carpets.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wheelchair Flooring Ideas

Has your wheelchair made a mess of your floors? Do you find your current floors difficult to clean? Are you thinking about reflooring your house to make it more wheelchair friendly? Are you looking for the best flooring for wheelchair users? This article offers important suggestions for wheelchair users who are thinking of reflooring their house and are looking for ideas for the flooring options which they should consider. Read this article about Flooring For Wheelchairs Options.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What To Do About Wet Wheelchair Tires

Every wheelchair user knows this problem. Listen to this wheelchair user talking about how "Wet tires show up really well on tiles" (turn up the volume, it is hard to hear him):


You can wipe your tires all you want, but you will probably never get it all. So, what is the solution to wet and dirty wheelchair tires:

Look into RehaDesign Wheelchair Slippers, specially designed wheelchair tire covers that are made to keep your house clean.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Helmet Laws For Motocyclists and Bicyclists?

If we want to get serious about decreasing the rate of head injury from traffic accidents, one way is to review the laws that could prevent many of them.  Although the National Transportation Safety Board strongly recommends the use of helmets and  "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders and 41 percent effective for motorcycle passengers" there still are many places where helmets are not required by law.  

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) do not have a motorcycle helmet law at all and 28 states require helmets only for some motorcycle riders. Further 21 States have a helmet law for bicyclists below a certain age, generally about 16.  An incredible 29 states have no bicycle helmet law at all.

What are your thoughts? Should helmets be required by law?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Hollywood Celebrities On Mobility Scooters

Mobility Scooters are becoming more and more popular. But now Hollywood Celebrities are taking to mobility scooters. This will make more people see mobility scooters as less as disability equipment and more like transportation. So, who are the rich and famous recently seen on mobility scooters? Halle Berry took a tour of Disneyland with her children on a mobility scooter: A pregnant Snooki was recently seen riding around on a mobility scooter. Hugh Hefner was spotted riding around on a mobility scooter in the company of some of his bunnies. So, if mobility scooters are becoming so fashionable that celebrities are riding them, will mobility scooters become more accepted for the rest of us? Read more about Mobility Scooters.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Wheelchair Gloves For Children

A new leather wheelchair glove has been developed for children. These kids wheelchair gloves have the advantage of being able to fit a wide range of sizes and to grow with the child's hands. These have a textured palm which helps children to grip the wheelchair push rim.

Read more about these wheelchair gloves for kids.

Monday, September 10, 2012

US Paralympian Punished For Doping

We have all heard about Lance Armstrong's lifetime ban and disqualifications for doping by the US Anti-doping agency. But did you know that these meanies also have the authority to sanction Paralympians? In August 2012 the USADA punished US Paralympic Cyclist Monica Bascio of Evergreen Colorado. Why? She took an over-the-counter drug containing Tuaminoheptane. What is Tuaminoheptane? It is a nasal decongestant and a stimulant which is on the 2011 list of prohibited substances published by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

I am not able to find any US manufactured products which use Tuaminoheptane. I did find that an Italian company, named Zambon, manufacturers a drug called Rinofluimucin which contains Tuaminoheptane. According to Bascio's website:

I used a nasal spray while in Italy to treat the symptoms of a head cold from which I was suffering, and was unaware that the spray contained a stimulant on the WADA list of specified substances. As a result, I unintentionally committed an anti-doping rule violation.
Hmmm....I would think that most athletes would know that many over the counter drugs contain stimulants and their use is banned, and that they would be EXTREMELY careful about what drugs they are taking.  I had a look at the list of WADA banned substances and tuaminoheptane is specifically mentioned there on page 7 under "specified stimulants". Bascio is not the first athlete to be found guilty and punished for taking Tuaminoheptane. As an example, in 2008, a french rugby player Rabah Slimani, was found guilty of taking Tuaminoheptane for a cold. In Slimani's case it was given to him by a team physician and apparently had no label on it. If this is true, frankly, I have more sympathy for Slimani than Bascio

Bottom line, if you are an athlete, you MUST be aware of what you are taking. I hope that from now on Bascio and other Paralympians are keeping a copy of the WADA list of banned substances where ever they go. If your nose is plugged try rinsing it with salt water.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Claire Lomas: NOT The First Person To Own An Exoskeleton

Claire Lomas, is an amazing person. She walked the London Marathon distance in an exoskeleton. She helped to raise thousands of pounds for Spinal ReSearch. She also worked with "Riders Revealed" to create a calendar of nearly naked riders to help raise money to buy an exoskeleton. But Claire Lomas is NOT the first person to own an exoskeleton. That honor most likely goes to Dave MacCalman of New Zealand. According to a recent press release:
Exoskeleton technology leader, ARGO Medical Technologies, along with mobility solutions provider, Cyclone Technologies, announced today that Claire Lomas has become the first person to take home an exoskeleton system for personal use. The new technology, which is manufactured by Argo Medical Technologies and supplied exclusively in the UK by East Yorkshire-based mobility solutions provider, Cyclone Technologies, has seen Claire become the first person in the world to utilise exoskeleton technology at home, and in her everyday life.
Claire is probably the first person from the UK to own an exoskeleton. But as reported in this blog on 2 May 2011, Rex Bionics sold its first exoskeleton to Dave MacCalman, a New Zealand Paralympian over one year earlier. In fact, according to this article
About 30 people worldwide already use the (Rex Exoskeleton)
When contacted for comment, John Frijters from Argo, the company which manufactures ReWalk said, "Our intent was not to discredit the work of any other exoskeleton unit. We are excited to release this new device that users can take home and incorporate into their daily lives. The ReWalk technology is unique in its design and we are launching a new phase in the UK and Europe now that the new unit will be available for personal use." I agree which Mr Frijters that it is indeed an exciting milestone that exoskeletons are now more widely available for personal use. I am certain that what is most important to Claire Lomas is that she is now walking whenever she wants, and it is less important if she is the first or indeed only one of the first wheelchair users to do so.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Paralympics: Electric Shock To Testicles Can Help ?

It is not news that athletes will take drugs or stimulants to get an advantage in competitive sports. But it came as news to me that paralympic athletes resort to stopping urine, breaking bones and even electric shocks to very sensitive body parts in order to get an advantage.

According to Brad Zdanivsky, a 36-year-old Canadian quadriplegic climber, as reported in this article in BBC:

Some people do that in sports by clipping off a catheter to let the bladder fill - that's the easiest and the most common - and you can quickly get rid of that pain stimulus by letting the urine drain out. I took it a notch further by using an electrical stimulus on my leg, my toe and even my testicles.

It is called "boosting" and it takes advantage of something called "autonomic dysreflexia" (AD) to increase blood pressure and performance. According to Wikipedia " AD occurs most often in spinal cord injury individuals with spinal lesions above the T6 spinal cord level; although, it has been known to occur in patients with a lesion as low as T10. But in addition to the increase in blood pressure which is the point of "boosting" AD is also associated with throbbing headaches, profuse sweating, nasal stuffiness, flushing of the skin above the level of the lesion, bradycardia,  apprehension and anxiety, which is sometimes accompanied by cognitive impairment. Further Zdanivsky says "you are getting a blood pressure spike that could quite easily blow a vessel behind your eye or cause a stroke in your brain," and "It can actually stop your heart. It's very unpleasant, but the results are hard to deny."

Enjoy the Paralympics, they start TODAY!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Multiple System Atrophy : How You Can Help

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare neurological disease that is debilitating and terminal. Patients lose mobility and must rely on assistive devices progressively throughout the course of the disease. Other systems break down as well, leaving patients trapped within their own bodies. Much is needed to research and support the needs of these people.

With the support of MSA NJ, SDS/MSA Support, Inc. is hosting its annual conference in New Jersey on Saturday, September 8 2012 at the Newark Airport Hilton with a reception for attendees on Friday, Sept. 7. Also, on the eve of the conference, MSA NJ is hosting a fundraiser dinner-dance. We welcome patients and caregivers impacted by MSA to join us for the conference, and anyone who enjoys good food and music while helping a good cause to join us for the dinner-dance. Registration is required. Other opportunities to support this cause are available through sponsorships, ads, and donations.

All relevant information can be found at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Six Solutions For Dirty Wheelchair Tires

What do you do about dirty, yucky wheelchair tires? When you take your wheelchair outside, you never know what kind of crap you are going to roll over (and I mean that literally). So, how do you clean those filthy wheelchair wheels? Here are six interesting and innovative solutions for cleaning dirty wheelchair tires:

Solution #1: Stick your dirty wheelchair into a wheelchair washer:

Solution #2: Put your dirty wheelchair wheels on rollers

Solution #3: Use an electric tooth brush to clean up your dirty wheelchair tires

Solution #4: Mount a gadget on your wheelchair which can clean the dirty tires automatically

 Solution #5: Use "elbow grease" to clean those dirty wheelchair wheels

Solution #6: Use washable RehaDesign Wheelchair Slippers to keep the dirty wheelchair tires from touching the floor.

Which do you prefer?

Read more about RehaDesign Wheelchair Tire Covers.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Handbiker und Rollstuhlbasketballer Gesucht!

 A German Textile Institute Is Looking For Wheelchair Athletes

The Hohenstein Institute is making a study about sports clothes for wheelchair athletes. The aim is to optimize clothes for handbiker and wheelchair basketballer in size and function. Therefore we are seeking wheelchair athletes (Handbike and Basketball) for body measurements. Further information under


Hohenstein Institute optimieren Sportkleidung für Rollstuhlsportler –

machen Sie mit!

Ganz besonders im Jahr der Paralympics zeigt sich, dass Rollstuhlsportler Höchstleistungen in ihren Disziplinen erbringen. Doch die Bekleidung ist noch nicht optimal auf die spezifischen Anforderungen angepasst. Allein die sitzende bzw. liegende Haltung bei Rollstuhlbasketballern und Handbikern stellt eine besondere Herausforderung an Material, Schnitt und Verarbeitung der Sportbekleidung.

Im Rahmen des durch das Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie geförderten Projektes sollen an den Hohenstein Instituten mit modernsten Untersuchungsmethoden neue Grundlagen geschaffen werden, mit denen Unternehmen für Rollstuhlsportbekleidung optimale Produkte herstellen können.

Um Sportbekleidung für Rollstuhlfahrer optimal gestalten zu können, möchten wir bei der Entwicklung eng mit Sportlern zusammenarbeiten. Ab April 2012 suchen wir männliche Liegendbiker und Rollstuhlbasketballer zur Erfassung des Körpers im Sportrollstuhl. Die Vermessung erfolgt berührungslos und sicher (Laserklasse I = augensicher) mittels modernster optischer 3D Bodyscanner. Die Vermessung findet am Hohenstein Institut statt. Für Mannschaften können Vororttermine vereinbart werden.

Mit Ihrer Unterstützung, werden unsere Wissenschaftler optimale Materialzusammensetzungen definieren und Schnitte sowie Verarbeitung an die besonderen Anforderungen von Rollstuhlsportlern anpassen können. 

Vereinbaren Sie einen Termin! Alle Daten werden selbstverständlich anonym behandelt und nur für Forschungszwecke an den Hohenstein Instituten ausgewertet.
Wir danken Ihnen für Ihr Interesse und freuen uns über Ihre Teilnahme.
Für alle Fragen rund um das Projekt stehen wir Ihnen sehr gerne zur Verfügung.
Wenn Sie einen Termin mit uns vereinbaren wollen, wenden Sie sich bitte einfach telefonisch oder per E-Mail an:

Anke Klepser M.A.
Telefon: +49 7143 271-325
E-Mail: a.klepser "AT" hohenstein "DOT" de


Monday, August 6, 2012

Who Makes Oscar Pistorius "The Blade Runner" Blades ?

By now you have certainly heard about Oscar Pistorius otherwise known as "The Blade Runner". If not, have a look at the video below:


During the August 2012 Olypics in London, Oscar Pistorius became the first double leg amputee ever to participate in the Olympic Games. While he did qualify for the semifinal of the Olympic 400 meters, unfortunately, he did not make the final. However, Oscar Pistorius will compete on Thursday 9 August as part of South Africa’s 4x400 relay team. 

But if you are wondering who makes Oscar Pistorius' prosthetic running feet, those "blades" which give him the name "blade runner", have a look at the Cheetah from Ossur. In fact it is the same prosthetic foot used by Marlon Shirley and April Holmes. There was controversy concerning those blades which initially kept Pistorius from competing in the Olympics. But Ossur made a very strong statement showing that these blades do not give the South African athlete an unfair advantage.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Push Girls: A Guy's View

Since I live in Europe and do not have the Sundance Channel, I can not watch the Push Girls as easily as others can. But I did manage to catch an episode of Push Girls uploaded on DailyMotion (if this link does not work in the future, do not be surprised. I expect the video to be taken down at some point, after all, I doubt it has been put there with the kind permission of the Sundance Channel).

What did I think? Well, this show is called Push GIRLS (note the caps) and, it really seemed a "chick flick" sort of thing. It was really focused on women's issues and, probably for that reason, it did not really click with me. But then again, most reality shows don't, particularly the girlie ones. Come to think of it, if I did not have a wife and a child, I probably would not watch TV at all. Mostly we watch E Channel (I always wonder when they will rename E Channel the Kardashian Channel? Do they show anything else?) and BabyTV. Sad to think that I know more about Kim Kardashian and Baby Chef than I do about many of my friends.

Anyway, I digressed. Even though I am not a fan of Push Girls, I can understand that it does resonate with many viewers. Read reviews written by women, such as this Push Girls Episode 6 Review,

I have discovered that most women really love Push Girls. Why not? Push girls focuses issues such as on dating, beauty, modeling, fashion and a boat load of other issues that women, more than most men, are interested in. So, I wonder, now that Push Girls seems to be successful, is there going to be a sequel called "Push Guys" or "Push Babies"? Better yet, if there was a "Push Kardashians", I would probably be watching it whether I want to or not.

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Improved Exoskeleton Launching Next Year

Recently I learned that a new exoskeleton  is speeding to the market and may be launched as soon as next year. The new exoskeleton has been designed by a team from Vanderbilt University Center for Intelligent Mechatronics under the leadership of  Prof. Michael Goldfarb. I contacted him and asked for an interview to update us on the progress about this new exoskeleton. Michael kindly agreed.

* Gene: How does the Vanderbilt Exoskeleton differ from the other four leading exoskeletons on the market (ReWalk, Ekso, HAL and Rex)?
* Michael: I’m not aware that HAL has yet been used to enable walking in a person with complete paraplegia, so I generally don’t consider it in a comparison. If you know otherwise, let me know. Regarding the VU exoskeleton in relation to the others, the VU exo is significantly lighter (12 kg or 27 lb); does not have components worn over the shoulders or under the feet; snaps apart into three pieces for transport, storage, donning, and doffing; and does not require an instrumented stability aid (like the Ekso) or a wrist pad controller (like ReWalk) to use. One additional substantial difference is that the VU exo is designed to be used with supplemental FES, for users that want the additionally physiological benefits of doing so. We have demonstrated effective cooperative use of the exo and FES with the quads and hamstrings. We have two papers that will be presented at the upcoming EMBS conference next month that describe results with FES. 

* Gene: Can you please tell us a few words about functional electrical stimulation (FES), how it works and what the benefits are for wheelchair users, quads as well as paras? What is the benefit of having electrical stimulation in an exoskeleton?
* Michael: FES is a means of artificially eliciting muscle contraction, in our case from surface skin electrodes, and in our case, used in conjunction with and controlled by the exoskeleton. As a result, the user is moving under the combination of exoskeleton motor power, and his or her own muscle power. Supplementing the exoskeleton with FES provides a number of physiological benefits to the user, including improved circulation, decreased decubitus ulcers, improved cardiovascular and lymphatic health, increased bone density, and reduced muscle spasticity, to name a few. Our system need not be used with FES, but can be used with it for those users who want the associated physiological benefits.

* How easy is it to put on the Vanderbilt exoskeleton? How long does it take?
* Michael: We designed it to be snapped on in three pieces while seated (i.e., you need not transfer into it, although you can if that’s the preference). This works fairly well in the current version, but we are currently revising the quick-connect design to make it easier to snap together. As it currently is, it takes approximately three minutes to don, and about 30 seconds to doff.

* What are the biggest challenges that you face?
* Michael: I’m not sure how you intend this question, but I believe establishing a viable business model for our exoskeleton (and all other emerging ones) is amongst the biggest of challenges. We need to demonstrate a clear benefit/cost ratio, in particular, by demonstrating clear therapeutic benefit (that fact the user’s really like it is likely not sufficient for medical reimbursement), and we need to reduce the cost of these exos.

* Gene: For what type of user will the Vanderbilt Exoskeleton be appropriate?
* Michael: Any para with sufficient upper extremity coordination to balance with a stability aid. Possibly some quads with sufficient arm and grip strength to use a stability aid.

* Gene: What are your plans for marketing the Vanderbilt exoskeleton? When do you expect to be able to bring the exoskeleton to the market?
* Michael: We have licensed this technology to a commercial partner that intends to bring the technology to market. That commercial partner will submit to the FDA. The commercial partner plans to make the exoskeleton available for purchase next fall (2013).

* Gene: Do you expect to market the Vanderbilt as the other exoskeleton companies have done before you, that is first for institutional use? Or will the Vanderbilt exoskeleton be for personal use from the start?
* Michael: The exoskeleton was designed for personal use, but the commercial partner will undoubtedly start with institutional markets, then progress to personal (consumer) markets.

* Gene:  Do you have an idea of the target price range of the Vanderbilt exoskeleton?
* Michael: This is to be determined by our commercial partner. My hope is that they will bring it to market at a much lower cost than the other systems you mentioned. Of all these systems, ours is the only one for which the development was funded by the US government (NIH), and our commercial partner need not recover these development costs, and therefore may be better positioned relative to the others to bring it to market at a lower cost. 

An improved exoskeleton at a lower cost would certainly be a huge step. If anyone knows of other exoskeletons for wheelchair users which will soon be coming to market, please contact me at RehaDesign "AT" Gmail "Dot" com. Read more about exoskeleton suits for wheelchair users

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Have a Blogger Blog? Add Google Plus Button FAST

Would you like to increase the traffic to your blogger blog? Would you like to make your blogger posts found more easily? One way to do that is to add a Google Plus Button to your blog as well as after each of the blog posts. If you do not understand what that means,  look to the left and right of the Wheelchair Pride Blog (this blog you are reading now):

* Do you see that G+1 followed by "Recommend this on Google"? (To your left)
* Do you see that "I'm on G+ / Add to circles"? (To your right)

* Now look at the bottom of this post (and every post of this blog). Look directly above where it says "labels". Do you see all of those little icons? If you hover your mouse over them you will see "share to facebook", "share to twitter", "Recommend this on Google"

Adding those buttons could increase your traffic.  Would you like to add those buttons to your Blogger blog easily and quickly? Even if you have no technical ability? Then check out this article about How To Add Google Plus To Blogger. Note that this only applies to Blogger Blogs, but probably something similar applies to Word Press Blogs as well.

Friday, July 6, 2012

ReWalk Vs Ekso Exoskeletons: How Do They Compare?

Most articles I read about exoskeletons for wheelchair users are very one dimensional, generally focusing on one of the exoskeleton brands and doing very little in depth analysis of Exoskeletons, the market or their potential. But I highly recommend this article by Ted Greenwald from Fast Company because Greenwald does what few journalists do. He really goes into depth about the subject. I even learned a few things. For example, in this paragraph Greenwald writes why one Rehab Center chose Ekso over ReWalk:
Denison chose the Ekso over the ReWalk-I from Argo Medical of Israel. The Israeli device, which is in use at several U.S. rehab facilities, does offer capabilities the Ekso can't match: It can climb stairs and navigate inclines, and its steps are activated by the wearer's gestures rather than a therapist's button presses. But other therapists who had used the ReWalk told Denison that it took too long to get patients in and out of it.
I found it interesting that a Rehab Center selected an exoskeleton for how easy it is to put on over superior performance and functionality. If anyone else has experience with the different exoskeletons or has read articles which compare the different exoskeletons, please contact me at RehaDesign (AT) Gmail (dot) com. Read more about exoskeletons for people with disabilities.

Friday, June 29, 2012

78 Year Old Walks In Exoskeleton

Think that the new exoskeletons for wheelchair users is only for the young? Think again. Senior citizen, Amar Sappal, 78 years young, takes his first steps after 2 years in an Ekso exoskeleton:

This is exciting news that exoskeletons can be used safely by wheelchair users, both young and old. Go Amar! Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Quad Wheelchair Glove Review

Jan from the Czech Republic, bought a pair of Strap N Roll gloves, and wrote to us that he liked them. Since Strap N Roll Quad gloves are new on the market, we wrote to Jan and asked if he would like to do an interview to tell us his thoughts about Strap N Roll and Jan kindly agreed.

Gene: Jan, can you tell us a bit more about yourself? What level is your injury? What kind of hand function do you have?

Jan: My name is Jan, I´m 32 years old and I´m from Czech Republic. 16 years ago, i jumped into the water, level of my injury is C4-C5. Kind of hand function is only wrist flexion.

Gene: What features do you look for in Quad Gloves? What kind of Quad gloves have you used in the past?

Jan: I was looking for the gloves what go easy to put on, help me easily control my wheelchair, will protect my hands against abrasions and will look good. That is my first Quad gloves.

Gene: What is it that interested you in Strap N Roll Quad Gloves? Why did you buy them?

Jan: Strap n Roll gloves had everything what I wrote above.

Gene: What were your thoughts about Strap N Roll Quad Gloves after you tried them? What did you like about them? What didn't you like about them?

Jan: Gloves had everything what i expect. They go easy to put on, have very good protection of my hands and make easily drive the wheelchair. I like the material and look. I have found no negative yet.

Gene: Did you find the Quad Gloves easy to put on?

Jan: Yes, absolutely.

Gene: Tell us about the fit? Was it comfortable?

Jan: Yes, no problem.

Gene: What about the grip on the push rim? Can you tell us about that? Do they help you to push the wheelchair more easily?

Jan: I think the grip is very good. I have rubberized push rims and that make the grip better.

Gene: Does the leather seem like it is good quality?

Jan: Yes, quality of leather seems like good. I use the gloves one week only, will see in future.

Gene: Is there anything else you would like us to know?

Jan: Yes. Thank you for your job. You do it great!!!

Gene: Thank you so much for the feedback. We really appreciate it.

If you buy a pair of our wheelchair gloves and would agree to be interviewed and let people know what you think, please drop us a note at RehaDesign "AT" Click to see Strap N Roll Quad Gloves.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Interview: Thought Controlled Exoskeletons

As I blogged about last week, scientists in Houston, Texas will soon be conducting clinical trials on an exoskeleton controlled completely by thought. This is exciting for two reasons. First a thought controlled exoskeleton could allow someone with no upper body movement, for example a quadriplegic with a very high spinal cord injury to operate an exoskeleton. Second, a thought controlled exoskeleton could one day achieve physiological-like movement, something that current exoskeletons will probably never achieve.

Here is a video of Dr Contreras-Vidal and the thought controlled Rex Exoskeleton:

I contacted Dr. Jose L. Contreras-Vidal and he agreed to answer a few questions about this exciting work:

* What are the main challenges that you are facing?

There are several challenges in bringing this technology to the clinic and the home. They include demonstrating safety and efficacy in a controlled clinical trial with patient volunteers -a requirement to gain FDA approval. We expect the use of the exoskeleton technology to result in both brain and body adaptations resulting in an overall improvement in health/well being, e.g., bladder function, bone density/strength, cardiovascular health, etc. We also need to improve the form-factor and usability so that patients can 'put on' the device easily and rapidly. Moreover, it is likely that several device models will be optimized to specific clinical populations, including pediatric. In summary, we are making the 'first steps' in this exciting and meaningful research.

* Do you believe that a thought controlled exoskeleton could achieve a physiological movement in the near future? For example, can it stand up, sit down, climb stairs, step sideways, etc? Or is something like that years off?

Our exoskeleton system is already functional in that it can sit, stand-up, turn left or right, climb stairs up/down all while self-balancing.

* How soon could it be before a thought controlled exoskeleton could reach the market?

Hard to predict given the challenges; however, given the non-invasive nature of the approach, which reduces greatly the risk to the user, we hope to be able to fast-track the system through the FDA approval process within a few years. This includes making the system available in parts, for example, we think the exoskeleton alone can be brought to the clinic within a year, whereas it may take a bit longer to bring the system for use a home. The thought-controlled exoskeleton would take a bit longer given the added complexities and testing to be done.

* I have read that clinical trials of thought controlled exoskeletons will start in Summer? Do you have a date yet? Do you know when it will finish?

We are working on this and will be in touch. Our current target date is late Summer.

* How many subjects will you have?

We will aim for 15 users with various degrees of physical/gait impairment

* Are you looking for subjects? If so, how can volunteers be included?

Once we are ready to start the studies we will advertise for recruitment, most likely in our webpages (see below) and through the Texas Medical Center.

* Any chance of some videos of a thought controlled exoskeleton? I would love to see this in action.

I can make this available later this summer.

* How can we keep up to date of what is going on so I can write about it. How can we do that?

Follow me in the social media,

Here are our official websites:

Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Push Girls: Hot Wheelchair Girls Or Inspirational Tear Jerker?

The folks from NPR contacted me recently to let me know that they will be will be interviewing some of the cast of the new Sundance reality show "Push Girls".  They wrote:

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, NPR’s Talk of the Nation is doing a segment on women in wheelchairs at 3 p.m. (EST). We’ll be talking to Auti Angel and Mia Schaikewitz from the Sundance channel series, “Push Girls” and we’ll also be taking calls from listeners who want to weigh in.
I had heard that Push Girls was in development but I did not realize it was already being broadcast. So, I looked on Youtube to see if I could find a few clips. This is what I found:

Frankly, that clip of Push Girls seems too "inspirational" for my liking and if they continue in that direction, I doubt that this show will have much "staying power". Yes, the Push Girls are strong. Yes, the Push Girls have done remarkable things post-injury. I know Auti Angel and there is not a sweeter, more talented girl on 4 wheels. But for this reality show to last more than a few episodes, we will need much, much more than inspirational fluff.

Then I saw this:

Reverse cowgirl? What is THAT?  So, of course I had to do a Google search and find out. Don't click this link if you blush easily, but if you are not shy here is a definition of Reverse Cowgirl.

So, I am hoping that the Push Girls break down some barriers and knock down some walls. Show us some hot girls on wheels. Make us blush. Make us laugh.  Don't go for the easy emotions, rather tug at our heart strings. THEN this show could be around for a few seasons.

NPR let me know that the interview with Auti Angel and Mia Schaikewitz can be heard internationally within a few hours after its live broadcast in the United States at this link.

PS: If there is a "Push Girl" reading this who would like to be interviewed, contact me at RehaDesign "AT" and I will set it up. Believe me, it will not be "inspirational fluff".

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thought Controlled Exoskeletons Coming Soon?

The day is coming when a paralyzed person will walk into a room wearing wearing an exoskeleton under their clothes and no one will know it. What is required to get there? First, a smaller and quieter exoskeleton than the big, noisy ones now coming to market. Second, technology which will allow the exoskeleton to be controlled in the same way that legs are controlled, by thought. 

A great deal of work is being done in the area of brain controlled exoskeletons. At Brown University, a robotic hand is being controlled by the thoughts of a quadriplegic subject, named Cathy Hutchinson, who has been unable to use her hands for 15 years. Watch how Cathy is controlling the robotic hand only by her thoughts:

However, in order to control that exoskeleton, Cathy has had to have an electrode implanted in her brain. Having anything implanted in your brain is quite risky and far from ideal.

So, it is very exciting news that a mind controlled exoskeleton is being developed by other researchers which does NOT require anything to be implanted. Instead, electrodes in a skull cap worn on the head sense the desired movements as can be seen in this video:

Dr Contreras-Vidal of the University of Houston, in Texas is working together with the manufacturers of Rex Exoskeleton to develop an  exoskeleton which will be controlled by thought. Why is this important? The current exoskeletons under development are controlled by "force and motion" sensors, a joy stick or sensors on the skin. None of these types of sensors are ideal and none will be able to offer physiological gait or natural movement. Imagine having to push a button in order to climb stairs, sit down or break into a run. Not only that, but a thought controlled exoskeleton will allow quads and others with little or no upper body control to be able to use exoskeletons. Soon, we will publish an exclusive interview with Dr.  Contreras-Vidal about his thought controlled exoskeleton. In the mean time, read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Friday, June 1, 2012

New Wheelchair Glove For Wheelchair Users With Hand Disabilities

A new leather wheelchair push glove has been launched for active wheelchair users. This new leather wheelchair glove has been designed primarily for quadriplegic wheelchair users and other wheelchair users who have hand disabilities who are active and would like to push a manual wheelchair. What makes this wheelchair glove unique?

First: Wheelchair users can select the type of closure that they prefer. Some wheelchair users prefer to close their gloves with a strap, because a strap makes it easier to close the wheelchair glove. Other wheelchair users prefer not to have a strap, because then the glove can open wider making it easier to insert the hand. This new wheelchair glove is the first offer both options.

Second: The wheelchair glove is completely open from the backside making allowing the hands more freedom to move.

Third: The grips on the palm of the hand are separated giving this wheelchair glove a hinge-like effect making this wheelchair glove more flexible than other wheelchair gloves.

Fourth: Unlike cheap leather wheelchair gloves which can turn the hand black due to color transfer, this wheelchair glove is lined with material so that the hand in never in contact with the leather. There is no need to wash this wheelchair glove before use and there is no risk that the hands of the wheelchair users can turn black.

Read more about these innovative wheelchair gloves for quads and other wheelchair users.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Exoskeleton for Wheelchair Users NOW In India!

Up until now, exoskeletons have been available only in the USA, Europe, Japan and Australia/New Zealand. The makers of Rex Exoskeleton have changed that by selling an exoskeleton to Ajit Jogi of India. Jogi is a former Indian politician who became a wheelchair user due to a car accident eight years ago. "Now, finally," he says, "I am able to look people in the eyes when I talk to them.":

Now we can hope to see exoskeletons available in all countries of the world. Read more about exoskeleton suits for wheelchair users.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paralympics 2012: All Wheelchair Rugby Events SOLD OUT!

I was reading a BBC article on wheelchair rugby and was surprised to see that 100 days before the games all events have sold out! This is from the article:

The sport, originally known as "murderball" because of its aggressive, full-contact nature, is played on an indoor court and involves teams of up 12, with four players per side on court at any one time.
Since making its Paralympic debut in Sydney in 2000 the game has gone from strength to strength, and tickets for the sport at London 2012 sold out in record time, which the Great Britain team hope will play to their advantage.

Being, by nature, rather skeptical, I decided to see if it was true. So, I wrote to the organization via its official website. That was yesterday and by today, no response.  So, I tried simply to purchase tickets for wheelchair rugby via the paralympic ticket webshop and sure enough, if you search for wheelchair rugby, all events are followed by the words, "currently unavailable".

Why is wheelchair rugby so popular? Watch this trailer for the film "Murderball" to see the action of this hard-hitting sport and you will understand:

Murderball, by the way, was one of the most amazing movies I have ever seen. Even if you do not like sports and have no interest in Wheelchair Rugby, you will enjoy this movie. Read this Murderball Review to see why.

So, how can you watch Wheelchair Rugby from the 2012 paralympics? I am now researching this information and hope to have an answer to that question soon. Return to this blog for an update on how to watch the 2012 paralympics.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Argo CEO Discusses ReWalk Exoskeleton

Watch this discussion between CEO Larry Jasinski and John Dawson-Ellis ReWalk Exoskeleton user. John started using the ReWalk exoskeleton one day before this video was taken. John discusses his thoughts about ReWalk Exoskeleton with Larry. John has been paralyzed for three years and says "Three years ago I would have given anything to be able to walk across this bridge. This is something I could never have dreamed of, but here I am!"
Read more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Festo's ExoHand: Exoskeleton Hand For People With Hand Disabilities

A German company Festo has developed an Exoskeleton which can supplement hand movement for people with disabilities. What is exciting about this exoskeleton hand, as you can see from this video is that Festo is working on thought control: It seems to me that this could be a breakthrough for people with amputated limbs as well. I hope to learn more about this exciting development and if so, will update this information.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Exoskeleton User Completes London Marathon

The Wheelchair Pride Blog has been quiet for a while. Much too long. But I have some news to report that I just can not resist reporting here. Claire Lomas, a UK wheelchair user has become the first person to complete the London Marathon in an Exoskeleton. I am proud of Claire's determination. Why? It took her 16 days to complete the marathon, but that did not stop her. You can see more about her final steps in this video: Claire's achievement did not get included in the London Marathon records, because she did not finish on the same day. Claire got no medals from the Marathon organizers, but some able bodied runners gave their medels to her. One day, in the not too distant future, exoskeleton users will complete a marathon AHEAD of able bodied runners. I am certain that there will be those who will complain that running in an exoskeleton is an unfair advantage. Visit Clair's website or click to learn more about exoskeletons for wheelchair users.