Mobility Impairments

Users perform better in a tongue controlled wheelchair than a wheelchair controlled by sip-and-puff devices. A tiny magnet on the tongue allows sensors on a helmet to detect the tongue’s movement allowing users to operate devices traditionally controlled by assistive technology like a sip-and-puff devise. The tongue drive, a new innovation in assistive technology for people with severe physical impairments developed at Georgia Tech, can be used to operate electronics like smart phones and computers as well as wheelchairs.

The DEKA Arm System is the first prosthetic arm that performs multiple, simultaneous powered movements controlled by signals from Electromyogram (E.M.G.) electrodes. The E.M.G. electrodes detect electrical activity from contracting muscles near the attachment area of the prostheses.   The electrodes then send those signals to a processor in the prosthesis that in turn translates them to movement or movements.

The arm can convert the signals in up to 10 powered movements and weighs as much as an adult arm. It can be configured for people with limb loss occurring at the shoulder joint, mid-upper arm, or mid-lower arm.

No one can deny the power and persistence of a father’s love. Paul McCarthy’s son, Leon, was born without fingers on his left hand due to a complication during gestation. The now twelve-year-old Leon sports a new prostatic hand made by his father with a 3-D printer. Mr. McCarthy is a special effects artist who, realizing the potential of 3-D printing, searched the Internet for two years for blueprints for a new hand for his son. He finally found Iva Owen who had successfully created mechanical fingers for a carpenter and a 5-year-old boy in South Africa. This enabled him to create the hand for his son. The 3-D printed hand cost a fraction of what it would for a traditional prosthetic.   

Google donated five pairs of Google Glasses to Newcastle University so that researches could test how they may be used to support people with long-term conditions. A team based at the University’s Digital Interaction group, part of the School of Computing Science, has focused on the acceptability of Glass in their initial studies.

The next stage of the project is focusing on using Glass to deliver discreet prompts linked to key behaviors typical of Parkinson’s. The behaviors included reminding the individual to speak up or to swallow preventing drooling. Glass can also be used for reminders such as taking medication and appointments.

Reem AI Marzouqui, a student at ABU, made a mistake on an assignment that cost her the grade. She was supposed to find out how everyday items had been modified to help people with disabilities. Instead, she made modifications to an everyday item. She may have botched the assignment but what she did was revolutionary for people with mobility disabilities allowing them to drive a car with relative ease.

Inspired by a documentary about an American woman with arm disabilities who was able to fly a plane much easier than drive a car, Reem set out to modify a car that could be driven by people with similar disabilities.

Reem is now participating in Innovation 2014, and exhibition by the Technology Development Committee, which hopes to encourage innovation among residents in the UAE.

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Co-workers can start to become a bit like family. As we become familiar with them it is their personality, humor, kindness and daily contributions to the business that stand out to us… that we count on. The big things that make them unique to the world can fade into the background. It’s not that we forget about those bigger things, but more that those things quiet for us in favor of the daily traits of that individual. More plainly stated: we get to know them.

Ben Heck, modder and host of Element 14’s The Ben Heck Show, is creating a single-handed accessibility mod for use with the Xbox One’s controller.

In Episode 113: Ben Heck’s Xbox One Teardown Episode, Mr. Heck showed a clip of the accessible Guitar he built in Episodes 105 and 106 and teases his next episode, in which he will build the accessible controller. The controller modifications will include:

  • A spiked thumb-stick, which will help discern direction.
  • A left trigger and gamepad on the backface.

More detail will be revealed on this Friday’s live episode.

According to Game Spot, Mr. Heck will donate the controller mod to the Able Gamers Foundation.

Studies indicate that karate can help improve posture and ambulatory condition, confidence and strength for people with disabilities. Stokes Mandeville Stadium in the UK has partnered with the Disability Karate Federation to bring the martial art to the community through a new project called KickStart 100.

The Disability Karate Federation is offering the initial three months of karate classes for only 15 pounds. The classes will be held at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in November.

Research conducted in 2012 indicated significant changes in the white matter of the brain in karate practitioners leading to understanding the role of white matter connectivity as it relates to motor coordination and how the brain changes may relate to the development stage in which learning begins.

More information on karate for people with disabilities can be found on the Stoke Mandeville Stadium website.

As someone who uses Assistive Technology (AT) to make it through her day, I’m telling you, you non-AT users can get pretty… weird. Something about interacting with an assistive technology (AT) user like me causes some normally very composed and astute people to lose a bit of their cool. I get it. I’m sure when I roll up in my wheelchair not in full control of my own body and chatting with my mom using my word board, I can catch the average bear off guard.

A motorized wheelchair tray called, “RoboDesk” may help people with disabilities more easily handle mobile devices such as an iPad and overcome the limitations of tables and moving from the chair.

RoboDesk and other assistance technologies are being developed by Brad Duerstock, an associate professor of engineering practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and School of Industrial Engineering, in the Purdue Institute for Accessible Science. Read more about RoboDesk.

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