Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lever Power! Nordigo Wheelchair Propulsion System

Irish company Nordigo has developed a unique propulsion system that can be fitted to manual wheelchairs. According to Nordigo, their patented "lever propulsion system" allows the user a 30% increase in speed and a 30% reduction in energy use when compared to a traditional pushing motion. The system allows traditional self propulsion to be done so that use of their system is only done when the user wishes to use it... all without having to disengage anything. The system works by a simple rowing motion which provides a nice cardiovascular workout for the user while also keeping the user's hand clear from the dirty wheels. Steering and braking are done by the disc brakes that are fitted to each quick-release wheel. Pretty clever for a system that appears to be lighter than traditional powered-assist motors! Check out their site for more details!

Monday, August 24, 2009

How Hard Can It Be? British Journalist's Experience In A Wheelchair

I found an article in a UK Newspaper Site The Independent written by their Business Editor. He had recently been injured in a cycling accident and broke his pelvis in three places. The doctors had told him that he will need to be off his feet for about six weeks so his only two options were either use a wheelchair or be on bedrest for that time. The journalist decided that using a wheelchair was the better option with his thoughts being along the lines of "How hard can it be?". Well, let us just say that the article he writes about his time in a wheelchair was a massive wake-up call for this guy and he rants about the many difficulties that he experienced as he went about his daily life while using a wheelchair. While the many issues that he raises are things that most wheelchair-bound users are already well-aware of, it is interesting to see how an able-bodied person reacts to the challenges that many of us endure on a daily basis. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Future Tech: Human Engineering Research Laboratories

The Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) is essentially a think-tank laboratory where the latest in wheelchair and assistive technologies are conceived. Researching and developing the latest in advanced controls, wheelchair designs, and assistive technologies, the goal of this facility is to "To continuously improve the mobility and function of people with disabilities through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation". With some of the innovations that they demonstrate in this clip, they are certainly attaining this goal. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Who Says We Cannot Fight? Amputee Soldier To Return To Combat

This is an article from the British Times Online Newspaper:

A British soldier who had part of his leg blown off by a land mine is preparing to return to Afghanistan to settle “unfinished business” with the Taliban.

Private Matt Woollard, 20, is expected to be the first British infantryman to return to the front line after being fitted with a prosthetic limb.

Woollard, a member of 1st Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, lost his lower right leg after setting off an insurgent bomb while on patrol near Kajaki in May 2007. His heart stopped three times while he was receiving treatment.

“I want to get back and do what I was sent to Afghanistan to do in 2007 — take the fight to the Taliban,”

The army expects him to pass fitness tests and he could return as early as next year.

Who ever said that someone who is disabled cannot go into combat? I just wonder if they are going to fit his prosthetic leg with additional enhancements such as extra weaponry like in Grindhouse or Robocop. That would be awesome. I question the fact that he would be the first soldier with a prosthetic limb to return to combat: there had to be someone who was motivated enough to convince the Army to send him back. He could be considered the first soldier with a prosthetic to return in the modern era of warfare. These days, that is quite an achievement considering that most armed forces require that any soldier be in perfect health. Perhaps this could be the catalyst for other soldiers with amputees, or even other disabilities, to enter combat (assuming that they would want to, of course). We have the same fighting spirit and, if we have to ability to perform the job that is required, we should be given the chance to prove it.

At least Woollard has the best motivation of any soldier there; there is nothing like revenge to keep you going and getting the job done. Godspeed Private Woollard and good luck!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Powerchair Drifting & Burnouts :)

There are a number of people who choose rear-wheel drive powerchairs over the more practical mid-wheel or front-wheel drive counterparts. One reason is the fact that this layout has been out since the inception of the powerchair. Some choose it since it behaves much like a manual wheelchair in its behavior. Others attribute its handling to be similar to that of a car. This clip shows why others choose this style of powerchair: its ability to drift. The clip is a great example of a good powerchair drift. For added amusement, there is also some nice burnouts as well :) Enjoy!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Real-Life Star Wars Tech: DEKA's "Luke Arm"

Dean Kamen (aka the guy that invented the Segway and the IBOT) and his company, DEKA, have developed and built a prototype artificial arm that was inspired by the arm used by Luke Skywalker (hence the reason it is called the Luke Arm) in Star Wars. It came about when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, or DARPA, created a program to develop advanced artificial limbs for injured soldiers. As you can see in the clip, it is designed from inception to be easily tailored to most types of amputations with its modular design. It is relatively light with the limb weighing about 8 pounds including all the electronics and batteries. The advanced electronics that manage all the arm's movements allow for agile and delicate movement and articulation of the arm, hand, and fingers. Control of the limb can be done through a variety of methods and even has allowances for feedback so the user can have some sensation from the limb. Pretty amazing stuff. As it is still in the prototype stage, it will be some time before it will be available to the public but with the relative success of Dean Kamen's previous projects (Segway, IBOT), I am sure it will be an amazing piece of technology that will help countless people. May the force be with you :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Family Guy - Wheelchair Creed

This is a short (and funny) clip from Family Guy where Joe recites his Wheelchair creed, as a play on the US Marines' creed whenever a recruit is given his own rifle. Or you can say that it is also from Full Metal Jacket. Anyways, it is a funny clip so enjoy!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Stereotypes: The Last Disability Barrier

The ADA has been in effect long enough for an entire generation to grow up in a world where accessibility has, in many respects, broken down the physical barriers that had been a hinderance to so many before. So does that mean the average wheelchair user has nothing to worry about? Well, not really. There is still a barrier that still needs to be broken down in order to for the wheelchair user and it is not physical: it is social.

There are many attitudinal and stereotypes that can hold back anyone with disability. The notion that disabled people cannot have sex or that we only want to date others like ourselves is popular and assumed by many in society. Even when it comes to children, the idea that we should not conceive, since it can pass the condition onto our children, is something that borders on a discrimination not of race or creed, but by ability. Contrary to many preconceived perceptions, many people with disabilities can have sex and are open to dating anyone, disability or otherwise. And when it comes to a family, who would not want that?

Society needs to be more understanding and educated when it comes to people with disabilities and, likewise, disabled people need to be more understanding that people with disabilities can be intimidating. Some of the greatest and most driven people are disabled; we possess many qualities that are desirable to anyone (and have posted previously about), disabled or otherwise. We are more open-minded than most people. We cannot pretend to be someone who we are not which seems to be prevalent these days. We tend to be more sensitive and caring since we have gone through much more than anyone. And lastly, we cherish life more than anyone and do everything possible to make the most of it. So for all you disabled people who feel that they are better off not trying to look for love, keep trying. We have many qualities that no one else has but are looking for so badly. Show the world how great you are!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Eco-Monster Wheelchair: Cadkit CadWeazle

German company Cadkit, producers of off-road wheels for a variety of applications, has created a series of wheelchairs fitted with their special off-road wheels. Called the Cadkit, their wheel and tire packages allow for their custom wheelchairs to conquer a variety of rough terrain that would bog down most, if not any, other powerchair. As you can see in the clip, you can see that it can handle sand without a problem. Worried about the seawater shorting out the electrical systems? They covered that since the batteries and other systems have been made watertight to protect it from anything short of actually taking the thing underwater. Worried about the sand sapping the range of the chair down to essentially nothing? No need to worry about that either since they have an optional solar panel that can be fitted to charge and top off the batteries (and also acts as shade for the user). An eco-friendly powerchair with an (almost) unlimited range and can go over almost any terrain? How clever is that! Check it out on their site and watch the clip.