Rehab Archives

How Next Generation Bionic Devices Will Help Everyone Trek Through Life

Prostheses and other body worn devices are changing how many people live and adapt to the world around us. Bionics, a field that applies biological concepts to building man-made devices, is revolutionizing not only how prostheses are built, but how we look at and interact with our bodies. Moreover, bionics may add new abilities to even those of us lucky enough to still have all our limbs intact.

Here’s Hugh Herr of MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group showing off at TED what his and other laboratories around the world have been up to in the field of body-worn bionic devices. Make sure not to miss the wonderful final surprise act:

 

Link @ TED: Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

Self-Designed Prosthetic Knee for Extreme Sports: Interview w/Mike Schultz, Biodapt Inc.

Self-Designed Prosthetic Knee for Extreme Sports: Interview w/Mike Schultz, Biodapt Inc.

Mike Schultz has always pushed himself to be the best he can achieve. He was living his dream as one of the top professional snowmobile racers and working his way up the ranks when an accident struck. He was thrown from his machine during a tough race, and a rough landing off his snowmobile resulted in an eventual amputation above the knee. But that didn’t stop Mike. He continued to chase his dream. Unfortunately, there were no prosthetic legs at that time that met his needs. So what did he do? He went ahead and designed his own, of course!

His friends at FOX, a company that makes shock absorbers and racing suspensions, lent him space in the machine shop, and with a few short lessons, he was able to manufacture and assemble the prototype “Moto Knee” himself. Then using his own creation, he went on to win multiple X-Games Gold Medals in the adaptive Snocross and Motocross classes.

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Virtual Reality Forest Project Creates Novel Environment for Dementia Patients, Caretakers (VIDEO)

Virtual Reality Forest Project Creates Novel Environment for Dementia Patients, Caretakers (VIDEO)

Video games have been used in a number of therapeutic applications, such as managing pain in burn victims and helping youngsters deal with depression. A new project in Australia is bringing together video game technology with gesture recognition and some other components to create a virtual reality interactive environment for dementia patients and their caretakers. The project is still in the development stage, and is looking for crowdsourced funds, but the video below shows off the current prototype that will eventually include a 10 m x 10 m projection screen, a touch display, and special lighting.

 

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Samsung Releasing Smartphone-Paired Technologies for Blind People

Samsung Releasing Smartphone-Paired Technologies for Blind People

Today’s smartphones have a surprising amount of technology built into them to help people do all sorts of things that were otherwise impossible not so long ago. Their brilliant screens are one of their greatest draws, but somewhat surprisingly at first, the technology within can be harnessed and expanded to help blind people navigate, “see” their environment in a new way, and communicate with others. Now Samsung is pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can do for blind people by releasing three new assistive devices that work with their Galaxy Core Advance phones.

The most exciting is perhaps the Ultrasonic Cover that works like a virtual white cane to spot objects ahead of the user. It will vibrate or use text-to-speech (TTS) to notify the user when something is within a couple meters of the cover. We’d have to see whether it detects street curbs, and so whether it would really be practical in real world situations. Nevertheless, the fact is that a smartphone with submarine-like object detection technology is here and it’s here to help blind people get around.

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Wheelchairhandles Make Pushing Wheelchairs Easier, More Comfy

Wheelchairhandles Make Pushing Wheelchairs Easier, More Comfy

Wheelchairs don’t seem to change much over the years, and fresh designs that do come out tend to focus on improving the experience of the people sitting in them. Yet, the person in the wheelchair is often not the only user and whoever is pushing it can benefit from improved ergonomics.

Wheelchairhandles is a new patented product that slips over traditional horizontal handles and gives the pusher a more comfortable, ergonomic experience. The handles can be grabbed in a number of ways and the company believes they make pushing a wheelchair so much easier that a photo of a wheelchair parked on a sandy beach graces the product’s website.

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Turning Your Smartphone into Your personalRN: Interview with Dr. Parsapour

Turning Your Smartphone into Your personalRN: Interview with Dr. Parsapour

We’ve noticed an increasing number of physicians turning to entrepreneurship to effect change in the health care system. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with one such clinician, Dr. Kourosh Parsapour, about personalRN, a company he founded to improve patient education and reduce readmissions.

Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What is personalRN and how did you come up with the idea?

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Myoelectric Controlled Avatar Helps Stop Phantom Limb Pain

Myoelectric Controlled Avatar Helps Stop Phantom Limb Pain

People unfortunate enough to lose an arm or a leg often feel pain in their missing limb, an unexplained condition known as phantom limb pain.  Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden decided to test whether they can fool the brain into believing the limb is still there and maybe stop the pain.

They attached electrodes to the skin of the remaining arm of an amputee to read the myoelectric signals from the muscles below. Additionally, the arm was tracked in 3D using a marker so that the data could be integrated into a moving generated avatar as well as computer games. The amputee moves the arm of the avatar like he would if his own still existed, while the brain becomes reacquainted with its presence. After repeated use, and playing video games that were controlled using the same myoelectric interface, the person in the study had significant pain reduction after decades of phantom limb pain. Here’s a video showing off the experimental setup:

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PICO, Prototype of World’s Smallest Hearing Aid Looking to Become Real Product

PICO, Prototype of World's Smallest Hearing Aid Looking to Become Real Product

The race seems to be on to commercialize a hearing aid that fits entirely inside the ear. A few days ago we reported on a project from an academic engineering team in Germany that’s working on miniaturizing and unifying components of hearing aids. Now we got word about a team based in Serbia that is touting the development of a prototype, supposedly the world’s smallest hearing aid, that’s just about ready for production.

The PICO hearing aid is powered by a tiny battery only 1.375mm x 0.85mm x 200 microns in volume, but that can run the device for up to six days per charge. The volume levels can go up to 120 dB and the audio processing can be programmed for each individual’s unique hearing loss.

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Amputee Naturally Feels Through Bionic Hand (VIDEO)

Amputee Naturally Feels Through Bionic Hand (VIDEO)

The mechanics of prosthetic hands has advanced tremendously over the past decades, and these devices have become lighter, stronger, and more responsive to their users. Yet, the sense of touch, a crucial component of a true prosthetic, has been difficult to implement.

Now researchers from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy have reported in Science Translational Medicine the development of new technology that actually transmits what the fingers of a prosthetic are sensing as real tactile perception. They did this by implanting electrodes in the remaining arm of a Danish patient at the median and ulnar nerves, which were then stimulated in response to the pressure sensors built into the prosthetic.

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