Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tim Leeding's e.d.g.e. Concept Wheelchair Blends Function and Style

Tim Leeding's e.d.g.e Wheelchair Concept is an innovative, fresh, manual standing wheelchair, aimed at taking the stale aesthetics of wheelchair design forward. The chair allows the user many personalisation options, to ensure that their chair, like your shoes or your car, becomes an outward expression of their personality.

As well as this, the chair features easy drive handles, with different gearing options to promote accessibility and combat shoulder injury, caused by the traditional wheeling technique. These handles can also be used to elevate the user in seconds, alleviating pressure sores, increasing reach capabilities and closing social boundaries which inhibit the lives of the disabled day to day. More images after the jump.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

DARPA's Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Ready For Human Trials

Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.

Already in recent years, we have seen very lifelike artificial arms, monkeys nibbling bananas with mind-controlled robotic limbs, and even humans whose muscle fibers have been wired to prosthetic devices. But this is the first time that human brains will be opened up, implanted with a neural interface, and then used to operate an artificial limb.

It is a giant step that will transform the devices, which were little more than hooks and cables only 50 years ago. And the progress is courtesy of Darpa, the Pentagon's far-out R&D agency, who've been sponsoring brain-controlled replacement limbs as part of their Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program.

A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins, who have been behind much of Darpa's prosthetic progress thus far, have received a $34.5 million contract from the agency to manage the next stages of the project. Researchers will test the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) on a human. The test subject's thoughts will control the arm, which "offers 22 degrees of motion, including independent movement of each finger," provides feedback that essentially restores a sense of touch, and weighs around nine pounds. That's about the same weight as a human arm.

The prosthetic will rely on micro-arrays, implanted into the brain, that record signals and transmit them to the device. It is a similar design to that of the freaky monkey mind-control experiments, which have been ongoing at the University of Pittsburgh since at least 2004.

Within two years, Johns Hopkins scientists plan to test the prosthetic in five patients. And those researchers, alongside a Darpa-funded consortium from Caltech, University of Pittsburgh, University of Utah and the University of Chicago, also hope to expand prosthetic abilities to incorporate pressure and touch.

"The goal is to enable the user to more effectively control movements to perform everyday tasks, such as picking up and holding a cup of coffee," Michael McLoughlin, the project's program manager, says.

In other words, prosthetic arms that are remarkably similar to the real thing. But the long-term caliber of the MPL arm remains an open question. Just three months ago,Darpa launched a new program to overcome several problems with neuro-prosthetic models - most notably, the two-year lifespan of those implanted neural recording devices.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Richard Stark's Neptune Prosthetic Fin

Even though Nelson Cardona from Colombia is physically disabled, he was able to reach up to the top of the Everest with the help of prosthetic legs. After this huge success, if Cardona starts pursuing his another dream to cross the English Channel, do you think using his same prosthetic leg would be an ideal choice? Of course not. Neptune is a simple, stylish and easy adoptable swimming aid concept that can be suited in 3 most usual types of amputations and provide ultimate support for swimming by using a standard silicone liner with a mounted cup to ensure even distribution of force from the tip to the leg. The fin remains attached to the cup that can rotate up to 90°, ensuring efficient breaststroke swimming. Additionally, spontaneous and uncoordinated action is being achieved by the 360° movement of the fin. Adjusting the strength of the fin is done by a slider.  More images after the jump.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourcross Introduction

The following Youtube clips are introduction videos for Fourcross.  In simple terms, it is the wheelchair version of mountain biking.  Unlike many wheelchair sports, this is a sport that is being pitched to able-bodied people in addition to the disabled.  Enjoy the clip and view the second part to this video after the jump.