2014 Spinal Injury Games

On August 22, 2014, in Uncategorized, by Richard Bell



WHEN: Saturday, September 13, 2014
8:30 am to 3:00 pm


PLACE: Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center

 7601 E. Imperial Highway

Downey, California 90242  

Register by August 29th, 2014 (to receive a free T-Shirt)

Phone: (562) 401-6322 / E-mail: sig@rancho.org



A New Alternative to Wheelchairs

On March 26, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

From Gizmodo:


The young man in this video looks like he’s riding a Segway. But Yusuf Akturkoglu was paralized after falling from a horse five years ago, and he’s being mobilized by an amazing device invented by Turkish scientists. It’s going to change lives.

It’s called the Tek Robotic Mobilization Device, and it not only allows people who can’t walk get around more independently than any device has before, but it also helps them stand up on their own, which is crucial for maintaining basic health functions in people who have spinal cord injuries.

Crucial Standing Assistance

Instead of entering from the front like a normal wheelchair, people using the Tek RMD enter from the back of the device. That way they don’t have to hoist themselves with a momentum that can be dangerous and is next to impossible to do alone. By attaching a thick padded strap around the hips, Yusuf maneuvers himself into the Tek RMD on his own. The device uses a suspension system that balances the weight so he can stand up with just a gentle pull. Standing for an hour or more every day is important for people who have lost movement in their legs; without the weight-bearing effect of standing, they can develop cardiovascular problems, brittle bones, pressure sores not to mention the psychological importance of eye-to-eye interpersonal contact.


In the video, Yusuf calls the device to his bedside with a remote-control, gets himself out of bed, goes grocery shopping, maneuvers around a bookstore, and even does some things in the bathroom that we thankfully don’t observe to completion. But these these abilities that most of us take for granted every day are key to the emotional well-being of paraplegic people. The ability to squat down and easily come back to standing is key. And while standing, Yusef’s hands are free to carry groceries or do whatever else he might need them to. Before trying out the Tek RMD, Yusuf, who was a student before his injury, rarely left his home where he lives with his parents.

Smallest Dimensions

The makers of Tek RMD says it’s the most compact device of its kind, which allows Yusuf to navigate crowded grocery aisles, libraries, and who knows, Coachella, maybe? All without knocking into the people and things around him. Users still need ramps in place of stairs, but the device eliminates the need for special bathroom stalls and other facilities that allow space for bulky wheelchairs.

The Tek RMD comes in five sizes. and is still undergoing clinical trials. Here’s hoping it’s on the market stat. UPDATE: It will be on the market in Turkey this week, and the company is looking for outlets in Europe and the United States, where it will cost about $15,000. Here’s hoping insurance will cover it.



Here’s an excellent website for wheelchair users who are visiting the California coast. Accessibility can be difficult along the coast and this website has guides, maps and other information that’s very helpful for wheelchair users.

A Wheelchair Rider’s Guide to the California Coast


Check out the new song Give Me Freedom, performed by Rider Toby Forrest and his band Cityzen. They debuted the song at the House of Blues Sunset Strip last week in a battle of the bands competition. The final competition is Friday, March 30 at 6:00pm at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood at Universal CityWalk. Click here for Cityzen’s Facebook page.


Research Update from the Reeve Foundation

On March 7, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

Below is part of the update, much more available here:

This is an exciting time for everyone who is committed to finding cures for spinal cord injuries. We are just beginning to see the life-transforming outcomes of the research that has been taking place in laboratories around the world over the last decade.

I have previously shared with you the amazing progress Rob Summers has made, going from being completely paralyzed below the chest to now standing and stepping with epidural stimulation.

As our loyal partner in this effort today, , I want to tell you about other thrilling findings evolving out of the scientific work that brings us ever closer to the cures so badly needed.

Potential Drug Therapies Chondroitinase ABC (ChABC) is a type of enzyme drug that eats up certain sugar chains that form scars and block regeneration after spinal cord injury in animal models. ChABC, in combination with rehabilitation, boosts functional recovery in acute spinal cord injury. Now there is data to show that ChABC, plus rehabilitation, works in a chronic injury model, too.

Cethrin may increase neurological recovery after complete spinal cord injury and in a recent acute injury trial it appeared to be safe and well-tolerated. Cervical injury subjects in the trial demonstrated a significantly higher ASIA motor score than would be expected in untreated patients. Patients with thoracic injuries were not affected much by the drug.


From the MV1 website:

Whether you’re a member of the disability community or you service the disability community, the MV-1, the first true mobility vehicle, was created with your specific needs in mind. After all, it was your vital input that helped us build it. Every part, every design element, every piece of engineering points toward taking you from place to place with comfort, ease and dignity. Get to know the one and only mobility transportation solution that rolls right off the assembly line ready for wheelchair accessibility that meets or exceeds the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines by examining its features in greater detail.


Eye Tracking Technology to Use a Computer

On March 5, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

See the original post here for a video explaining more about the technology. From Engadget:

Of all the things we saw at CES, Tobii’s eye-tracking Gaze interface was one of the most memorable, even if the execution was a bit flawed. Now the company’s back with a next-gen sensor that fits on a single board and is 75 percent smaller than the iteration we saw at CES — a milestone that will presumably allow it to accommodate a wider range of devices. Tobii also says the IS-2S eye tracker consumes 40 percent less power than its predecessor and will be cheaper to implement, though the company doesn’t specify how much it’ll cost. It’s also unclear which Windows PC and tablet makers will take a chance on the technology, though that won’t necessarily stop us from getting an early demo at CeBIT this week.


Great Interview with Rider Toby Forrest

On March 4, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

Here’s a preview from the article. Read the entire piece for an interview featuring an awesome person.

And yet you’ve made music work. You’ve played SXSW and all along the Sunset Strip.

If you’re a creative person and you’re not creating, you’re dying on the inside. I’ve done all these things that musicians have dreamed about and continue to dream about. There are kids in Ohio right now and all they’d want is to play House of Blues main stage and I’m going to get to do that. I am optimistic and I’d love to play Warped Tour next year and to have another album out, but if at the end of the day, just having played every place on the Sunset Strip and having gotten to create a bit of noise is it, that’s enough.

How are you able to sing so powerfully?

I’ve had people in the medical field ask me how I am able to have the power at times that I have and I have no idea. I think passion overrides any obstacle. When the music is there, my brain doesn’t think about the limitation. I just feel it.




Check out the article titled “Sex, Wheels and Relationships,” featuring Rider Bobby Rohan. We won’t post a snippet of the article so that you can go and read the entire article that is worth your time.


From the New Mobility Blog

If you ask me, one of the biggest stresses of using a wheelchair is accessibility – whether I want to know if the new Indian place in the old part of town has a ramp, or if a certain bus stop on a trip to London is accessible, finding accurate REAL-TIME information on accessibility isn’t easy. It’ always a gamble – sometimes a website will have out of date information, or even worse, a place’s idea of what they consider “accessible” can be a total joke.

It is in my opinion that the only truly accurate information you can find on accessibility comes from the mouth of babes, ie., from other actual wheelchair-users. That is why Raul Krauthausen, a German with Brittle Bone Disease, created the Wheelmap app, the latest wheelchair accessibility app to hit the scene.

The app’s data is user-inputted, with people who use the app adding and commenting on accessibility wherever they visit. Krauthausen believes this method not only ensure accuracy, but will greatly enhance the amount of information on accessibility. As someone who’s struggled with accessibility, “I want to remain flexible and not be dependent on when a driving service has time to pick me up,” Krauthausen tells the Associated Press, he knows all too well just how finally making it to where you’re going, and finding its not accessible, can really ruin your day.

But what if people enter inaccurate information either mistakenly, or even worse, on purpose? Krauthausen is betting, and I agree with him on this this, that most people wouldn’t bother with spamming a wheelchair accessibility app. Pretty lame spamming rights if you ask me. At the end of the day, Krauthausen envisions his free app being used in cities worldwide.

Accessibility on Wheelmap is illustrated by a color-coded flag system: Green = completely accessible, yellow = partially accessible (makes you wonder), and red = not accessible. The Wheelmap app is for iOS devices is in English, German, and Japanese, and is still in its trial (beta) version. Details on 30,000 locations have already been added, and approximately 300 new user ratings are added each day.

To download, visit Wheelmap.org.


From the New Mobility Blog

There seems to be a growing trend among power wheelchair-users saying goodbye to using sidewalks, and hello to zooming on the street. They’ll drive alonside traffic right next to the lane, using bike lanes, and going near 10mph.

While I am a baby and am not one of these individuals, there are several folks who prefer driving the streets over sidewalks with no fear. As a driver of an actual vehicle as well, I know all too well most drivers are simply way too preoccupied to risk partaking in this crazy trend.


Ekso Bionics Sells Its First Commercial Exoskeleton

Ekso Bionics (Berkeley, CA) has recently delivered the ready-to-wear, battery-powered Ekso exoskeleton to its first customer, the Craig Hospital in Denver, an institution dedicated to spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury rehabilitation. The Ekso system is strapped on to the user over clothing, enabling paraplegics to stand and walk.  The company will deliver more units over the next few months.

While the unit weighs in at 45 pounds, it is transferred to the ground rather than to the patient. The system can accommodate most patients who weigh 220 or less and who are between 5’2” and 6’2” in height.

The company, which was founded in 2005, has been supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Defense and has benefited from collaboration with researchers at UC Berkeley. In addition, the firm has licensed HULC technologyfrom Lockheed Martin.

The company also partnered with rehabilitation centers across the United States to complete a ten-month investigational study on 63 subjects who passed a preliminary health screening.

The company’s exoskeleton technology recently wowed the audience in attendance at the recentFutureMed event. Check out this excerpt from that presentation:



Ekso Bionics Delivers First “Ekso” Exoskeleton

Investigational Studies Completed: All Paraplegic Patients Walked During First Session

BERKELEY, CA, Feb 15, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Ekso Bionics today announced that the first commercial unit of its Ekso exoskeleton was delivered yesterday, on February 14, to Craig Hospital in Denver. Ekso is a wearable robot that powers paraplegics up, enabling them to stand and walk. In addition — working together with top rehabilitation centers in the U.S. — Ekso Bionics just completed a ten-month Investigational Study of Ekso that entailed reciprocal information sharing and learning, training, as well as the definition of clinical protocols. Delivery of Eksos — beginning with Ekso Bionics’ Charter Rehabilitation Centers — will take place over the course of the next three months.

Ekso is a ready-to-wear, battery-powered exoskeleton designed for patients with spinal cord injuries and pathologies that inhibit their ability to walk. It is strapped over the user’s clothing. The patient doesn’t bear the weight, however, as the device transfers its 45 lb. load directly to the ground. Each Ekso can be adjusted in a few minutes to fit most people weighing 220 pounds or less, and between 5’2″ and 6’2″, with at least partial upper body strength, and can be adjusted to fit one patient and then another in minutes.

“We said we’d be shipping the first units in Q1 of 2012, and we made that deadline,” explained Eythor Bender, Ekso Bionics’ CEO. “Ekso Bionics has fulfilled all of the FDA requirements that empower the company to sell the first commercial version of the Ekso exoskeleton to rehabilitation centers,” he added. The sale of each exoskeleton to rehabilitation centers includes “Ekso +,” a comprehensive service, financing and training program.


ifaraday.com sells many different types of stylus that can be used with an iPhone, iPad, and any other type of touchscreen device. There are several different types of stylus available, including ones that can be used as a mouthstick and can wrap around someone’s wrist so that someone with no movement in their fingers can use a stylus as well.


Check out this link and this link for 2 different types of prism glasses, which can be used to watch TV for someone who’s laying in bed.



On February 29, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

Man in Wheelchair Robs Store With Knife, Gets Stuck in Sand

A physical disability does not preclude you from being arrested for a crime.

John Champion, 22, didn’t realize this when he rolled his wheelchair into a gas station located in Chiefland, Fla. Once inside, he pulled out a knife and demanded money, telling the clerk to “push the panic button because the police would not arrest a handicapped person.”

Well, they did. After they found him and his wheelchair stuck in the sand, of course.

Apparently, the store clerk wasn’t fazed by the taunting, and chose to grab the knife and stab John Champion in legs. Once wounded, the wheelchair bandit grabbed a case of beer and a roll of electric tape and then fled the store.

He was located on the backside of the property, drinking a Bud Light and with his wheelchair stuck in the sand. The purpose of the electrical tape is still unknown.

After being treated for his injuries, the Gainesville Sun reports he was booked into the county jail and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery. He claims he didn’t rob the store.

Though police can’t find the knife they do have surveillance footage, according to the paper. Champion also told responding officers he had thrown the knife into the woods, admitting that he was armed when he stole the beer and tape.

Between the tape and his admission, prosecutors shouldn’t have trouble convicting John Champion on either charge. Add the fact that his wheelchair prevented him from leaving the scene, and they’ve got a pretty solid case.


Great LA Times Article about Newly Injured Quad

On February 26, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

Cory Hahn is still part of a team

Paralyzed by an accident in a baseball game at Arizona State last year, the former Mater Dei standout gets along with the help of his father, who has given up his job to care for his son.

From Tempe, Ariz. — The coach once helped carry his son from tee ball to the top of the high school baseball world, never missing a game, cheering every moment, from midnight batting practice to driveway bullpen sessions to championship glory.

Today, the coach gently places his son over his shoulder and carries him from his wheelchair to the front seat of his dusty truck.

“We were never much for hugging,” Dale Hahn says. “But now I get to hug my son all the time.”

More on LA Times


Article About Sidewalk Lawsuits in Los Angeles

On February 24, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

Northridge residents can’t get city to fix buckled sidewalk

For the mobility impaired, they’re the cause of dangerous end-runs into the street. Or worse, injury caused by tip-overs of unstable wheelchairs.
“Anyone who lives in Los Angeles can attest to the poor condition of its sidewalks – it’s a fact of life,” said Surisa Rivers, an attorney for the Los Angeles-based Disability Rights Legal Center, whose class-action lawsuit to compel Los Angeles to make its sidewalks and curbs comply with the American Disabilities Act is scheduled for trial in
November.”This is a civil rights issue. It’s the city’s failure to comply with its obligation under disability rights laws. We have clients who have to go out in the street if they want to go out to the neighborhood grocery store,” she said. “Not only is it unsafe, but it’s humiliating.”



Life Changer: Invisible Wheelchair Control And More Via iPhone Accessory

Last weekend at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, Georgia Tech unveiled a Tongue Drive System which works with an iPod or iPhone to control electric wheelchairs and computers. The system uses a specialized dental retainer with embedded magnets to send wireless signals to an iPhone or iPod specially programmed to operate the wheelchair.

More here


Cool New Technology for High Quads

On February 22, 2012, in Uncategorized, by mawillits

Magnetic retainer lets you operate machinery with your tongue, gives linguistics new meaning

Many people with debilitating conditions rely on sip and puff technology to get around, which is relatively lo-fi by some standards. Now, a special retainer with magnetic sensors could bring mobility into the smartphone age. Developed at Georgia Tech, the Tongue Drive System uses a magnetic piercing to track lingual gestures. The sensors then transmit data to an iOS app that translates it to on-screen or a joystick movement. Earlier versions used a headset, but the prototype revealed at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, is hoped to be more comfortable and discreet. The system is currently being trialled by 11 participants with high-level spinal-cord injuries, with larger trials planned.

From Engadget