Showing posts with label Wheelchair. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wheelchair. Show all posts

May 29, 2019

Beautiful People

I ran into this lovely lady in Rockville. 

Obviously, she has a disability, but I was so impressed with her. 

She had this cute dog sitting on her lap while in her wheelchair. 

And the wheelchair had this awesome colorful mosaic in the wheels. 

She seemed to be with family that loved her.

They stopped to stay hello and permitted me to take a photo. 

I was so inspired by them.

There are truly beautiful people in the world and they make the world a wonderful place for all of us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 8, 2017

Robotics Help The Paralyzed Stand And Regain Mobility


Some of the best work being done in robots to help disabled people is from Dr. Amit Goffer of the Technion University in Israel. 

ReWalk is a robotic battery-powered exoskeleton with motorized legs and hips that enable paraplegics to walk, turn, and even climb and descend stairs again--and is FDA cleared as of 2014. 

And UPnRIDE is a wheeled auto-balancing robotic device that enables quadriplegics to stand and be mobile. 

The inventor, Dr. Goffer, is himself paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident 20-years ago.

This has inspired him to create these absolutely amazing robotic devices to assist all disabled people who are wheelchair bound. 

Approximately 1% of the people are wheelchair bound that's 70 million

And surely, many more especially in the developing world need wheelchairs and don't have them.

So these amazing robotic devices have the incredible capacity to help so many people stand and regain their mobility and dignity again. 

These are nothing short of miraculous and a new beginning for so many people suffering from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, palsy, strokes and more

Being able to stand again is not only psychology healthy and helpful for mobility, but it may aid in preventing secondary conditions that wheelchair-bound people can suffer, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, loss of lean mass and difficulty with bowel and urinary functions.

ReWalk has also received approval for coverage from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for those qualifying and with spinal cord injuries. 

Hopefully, this is just the beginning for helping people around the world. Mobility is life! ;-)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to The Times of Israel)
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June 10, 2016

Beach Wheelchair

This was really nice to see.

Someone invented a beach wheelchair.

Thoughtful for people with disabilities.

Not sure how well it actually would work to try and push this over the sand dunes.

But I credit people for trying to help other people.

Too often, we only think of ourselves.

It's inconvenient to think of those with less or with problems and in need.

But when we come out of or own heads, we can uplift ourselves as well as others to the beach or wherever else they want to go. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 8, 2015

Someone I Know And Didn't Know

So this is a true story...

I am on the crowded metro coming home from the office, sitting facing backward and toward the middle of the car. 

There is some noise and rustling coming up from behind me, and I see people's heads turning and startled looks on their faces. 

I turn around to see what is going on...

Someone in a wheelchair is screaming to get off the train. 

However, he is caught about halfway in between the closing metro doors, and can't get back in or out and off the train. 

There is one guy who was apparently standing by the doors, and he is trying to get the door open, but can't budge it.

Everyone else on this busy train seems just frozen, almost as if time had stopped (really). 

But the double train doors are wedged into the larger and smaller wheels (for hand turning) on the side of the wheelchair. 

The person in the chair is still calling out for help and to be released from the clasp of these heavy doors around him--in his seated position, his lower torso from his thighs down are positioned outside the train, but his upper body is still on the train. 

The conductor is trying to move the train again and again...and it's not apparent whether the failsafe mechanism for the open door will work as the train is lurching forward and the doors are sort of vibrating in this quick open/close fashion. 

Then, I see someone spontaneously jump out of their seat.

They are racing to the wheelchair jammed in the doors.

I see them first try and push open on the left side...but it's still not budging.

Then, they try and pull the other, right side, open towards them...but it's to no avail as the forceful doors are wedged in on around the chair. 

With everything around them a blur of seats and faces, the person turns their head looking around for another way...

They see like a target standing out in the distance, an emergency intercom on the front wall of the train.

The person lunges toward it and hits the round button.

The conductor who is still fidgeting with the doors to get them closed and trying to move the train ever forward comes hastily on the speaker, but apparently not connecting the call to him with what's going on with the doors and wheelchair says "Yeah, what's the emergency?"

The person catching himself, musters the words to say into the comm device, "There is a wheelchair stuck in the train doors-- OPEN THE DOORS!"

The conductor immediately reacts and the doors pull apart from both sides, and the wheelchair almost falls forward, the disabled person sort of thrown from the train, but finally on the platform, and wheeling themselves as quickly as they can towards the elevator to get away from this whole situation. 

With nothing left to do, the person who helped, let's out a deep breath and is visibly shaken, but also glad to see the person in the wheelchair safe and on their way. 

As he is walking back to his seat, he realizes there are a lot of eyes on him that were just a blur before. 

At the same time, over the speaker system comes the relieved voice of the conductor with a simple "Thank you."

I see the person sit down, calling his wife to tell her what happened, he starts to silently cry. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 7, 2014

A WOW Wheelchair

Absolutely loved the article and video in Bloomberg Businessweek on the Tankchair.

Brad Soden makes these amazing ruggedized wheelchairs for wounded veterans and other disabled people in need of getting around some rougher terrain. 

They are customized for each user and cost about $15,000 each. 

They are built on tank-like treads and can go up stairs, through fields, across streams, and over snow.

"Basically, it's get off the couch and go enjoy life!"

They are tough and can last 15-20 years!

He first made one for his wife who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident and was having difficulty keeping up on a family camping trip. 

Soden is truly inspirational--he produces these not too make money, but too help people. 

"The body can't keep up, so we're gonna fix it."

This is an awesome man making an extreme machine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Tankchair)
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December 28, 2013

Rock The House


Alright, this Jewish kid from the Bronx is not the biggest club guy.

But, we had a special event at the Light Club in Vegas and it was pretty awesome. 

The Great: the lights, dancers, special effects, and overall venue at the Mandalay.

The Okay:  Prefer an even higher tempo and energy from the music for more of the time. 

One amazing human element that I saw at The Light was someone in a wheelchair on the dance floor surrounded by his friends, all having a good time. 

Overall, I am finding Vegas better than what they advertise...guys, for almost $10B in gambling revenue, you can certainly find a better marketing and branding firm.

As DC is to politics, Vegas is to entertainment, but DC gets all the news coverage (more often bad than good), and Vegas needs something more than Sin City. ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 10, 2013

Walking Tall Again



CNN has a video out today on this amazing new technology for paraplegics. 

It is a miraculous robotic exoskeleton called the ReWalk by Argo Medical Technologies in Israel. 

The inventor, Dr. Amit Goffer, is himself quadriplegic and asked a simple question, "Why is a wheelchair the only answer for those with spinal injuries?"

He challenged the status quo and now there is a way for paralyzed people to stand and walk again. 

I choose this video for the blog, because I found it so immensely inspiring to see someone previously wheelchair-bound participating in a marathon in Tel Aviv this year. 

The ReWalk is strapped on and has motorized joints and sensors and a battery pack. 

When combined with some braces, a person has mobility again on their feet!

I cried when I saw the patient, Radi Kaiuf go over the finish line after walking 10 kilometers with the ReWalk and everyone, including the children on the sidelines, cheering for him.

Congratulation to all the researchers from the Technion University who helped make this a reality--hopefully people around the world, who are in are in need, will be able to benefit in the future and walk again. 

Truly, mobility is life! ;-)
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November 11, 2013

From The Window In the Nursing Home

I visit the nursing home pretty often to see my mom who is there. 

While I try to focus on my mom and her needs, I do notice other patients there. 

The images are deeply impactful on me...here are ten that are on my mind today:

1) The husband and wife who are both in the home in a shared room--the wife is wheelchair-bound and the husband dutifully pushes her around the floor. This weekend, I saw them together at the nurses' station asking for some crackers. When the nurse came back with some individually wrapped crackers in cellophane, the couple took them and went off down the hall happy as clams.

2) The lady at the table who is overweight, but always asks for more food. She doesn't talk much except to ask for more dessert. She stares at the other patients and seems annoyed and upset with them.

3) The guy who was a lawyer, but now has dementia, and sits and talks half to himself and half trying to engage others, but all that comes out is sort of gibberish. So others just nod or say something to politely acknowledge him, but can't converse with him with any meaning. 

4) The lady in the room who sits in a chair hunchback. She never seems to leave the room or the chair. Sometimes, she watches TV and other times appear to be crocheting. Mostly she sits hunchback, looking uncomfortable, but settled for the long hall like that. 

5) The woman who sits outside her door in the hallway. She is in a wheelchair, and she doesn't say anything, but she stares at you while you walk down the hallway. She sits there watching--sitting and watching. 

6) The younger but still old disheveled guy. He comes into the dining room to eat, but gets food all over himself. He sits alone, always. He eats quickly, leaves half his food, and gets up and goes out while everyone else is still picking away at their food. 

7) The lady with a wall of baseball caps. She has no hair, maybe she has cancer, I don't know. She usually is in bed, sitting up. The caps look like they have a lot of meaning to her, but I'm not sure if it's because she's a sports enthusiast or why.

8) A lady in a wheelchair that pulls herself along down the hall. She puts one foot in front of the other in these baby steps motions, and the chair moves along, slowly, but at least she is mobile, somewhat. 

9) This weekend, I looked out the window of the home, and there was a woman on the sidewalk. She had fallen on the ground, on her butt. Her walker was next to her, but she could not get up. Some people were near here, apparently trying to get help, but not wanting to touch or move her themselves. I ran for the floor nurse, and she came to the window to see. She said is that so and so, which meant nothing to me, and then she ran off to help her get up. 

10) A lady sits downstairs by the glass windows--she is dressed up fancy like older healthy people are want to do. Next to her is an older gentleman in a turtleneck, but he is just visiting and is her son. They seem to be sort of wealthy as they sit upright in the high-back chairs and discuss family and what she's been eating at the home. They look askance at some of the other patients who are crying out in pain. 

The nursing home, like the hospital is a horrible place to be, even when you have to be there.

In both places, even the most caring doctors and nurses and attendants, cannot make up for the fact that you are a prisoner of age, failing health, and disability--and let's face it, even if many are nice or attentive, not everyone is. 

I am still unclear why people must suffer so--why we haven't found a better way to end good, productive, and loving lives.  

I am not sure that people are really even focused on this issue of old age, because it's not sexy, it's at the end anyway, and "they had the chance to live their lives."

Maybe, it's because we simply don't have the answers yet, can't afford what they would take, or we would just rather not deal with mortality, pain, and suffering when there are so many other things to do. 

But one day, we all will face the piper--and it would be comforting if we had better answers.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 28, 2013

Wheelchair Complexity

So my approach to enterprise architecture, product design, and customer service, as many of you know, is plan and simple, User-centric!

Innovating, building things, servicing customers, and communicating needs to be done in a way that is useful and usable--not overly complex and ridiculous. 

The other day, I saw a good example of a product that was not very user-centric. 

It was a type of wheelchair, pictured here in blue. 

And as you can see it is taking 2 men and a lady quite a bit of effort to manipulate this chair. 

This little girl standing off to the side is sort of watching amusingly and in amazement.

What is ironic is that the wheelchair is supposed to be made for helping disabled people. 

Yet, here the wheelchair can't even be simply opened/closed without a handful of healthy people pulling and pushing on the various bars, levers, and other pieces. 

If only Apple could build a wheelchair--it would be simple and intuitive and only take one finger to do everything, including play iTunes in the background. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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April 28, 2013

The Pain of Parkinson's

At the dedication of the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the picture of the elder Bush in a wheelchair really struck home.

My mom has Parkinson's Disease and is wheelchair bound. 

For a number of years, I have watched (feeling helpless) my mom go from a vibrant person to succumbing to the devastation of this disease of unknown origin. 

First, for many years (before we new) was a slowness of gait--with everyone yelling "come on mom, hurry up! Why so slow?"

Then, the uncontrolled shaking, especially of her hands, and deformity of the joints. 

Next came the difficulty moving, the shakiness when walking, and the falls--until the time, some nerves were damaged and her foot got turned inward, so she could no longer stand.

Therapy, a walker, and then a wheelchair, and now for most of the day--confined to bed and loss of basic movement that we usually take for granted. 

With loss of mobility, came loss of appetite, insomnia, depression, and GI problems. 

Despite visits to numerous medical experts--we could only treat the symptoms, but could never keep up somehow with the progression of the illness. 

My beautiful mom has suffered terribly, and my dad (despite his own medical challenges and age) has been her caretaker through it all.

Dad has done all the things for a person that can be done--on call every minute--until exhaustion at times. He has been nothing less than heroic in his deeds, dedicated to my mom and doing it with endless love for her--and always remaining (at least outwardly) optimistic and hopeful for both of them. 

My mom went to the hospital a week and a half ago and this last week was transferred to a home. 

Her eyes show the story of her suffering, and her body is drawn from fighting the illness, yet inside her the intelligence and love--she shows with a mere rise of her eyebrows and smirk--gives me strength. 

I love my mom and dad. It is a tough road when age and illness take their toll. 

It is scary to think at times what the future holds for each of us and how we will endure in the face of it. 

Mom and Dad have suffered in their lives from the holocaust, with seemingly endless hard work trying to make a living, and with debilitating illness. 

Their story and lives are a monument of strength and courage, love and devotion, and faith in the Almighty.
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March 8, 2013

From Wheelchair to Walking


Berkeley Bionics (now Ekso Bionics) has done miracles here in helping the disabled to walk again. 

Based on the Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) from Lockheed Martin that was developed for the warfighter to carry 200 pounds of weight at 10 mph, Berkeley has adapted this technology for medical rehabilitation. 

I first watched this eLEGS technology on a National Geographic special called "Make Me Superhuman."

This woman literally walks for the first time in18 years after a skiing accident, and I was literally crying for her. 

She wobbled and would've fallen if not for the safety harness, but after a few times retraining her muscles to walk again, she was able to take steps and turn using the eLEGS exoskeleton technology.

Over and over again, she says how grateful she is to be able to stand, be normal height, walk again, and get out of her wheelchair.

This technology can really bring hope to the disabled, especially as it gets refined, more compact, and cheaper.

The vision is that paralyzed people will one day get up in the morning, put on the eLEGS, get in the car, and then walk around all day just like you and I.

Oh, what a great day that will be. ;-)

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December 23, 2012

When Technology Fails, People Can Succeed


We were really happy to find the Sun Trolley in Ft. Lauderdale.

For 50 cents a person, you can ride between the beautiful beaches and downtown Las Olas Street where there are wonderful art stores, cafes, museums, and shopping. 

One day, riding the bus though, there was a technology failure that really made we think about the relationship between man and machine. 

On the bus, there was a elderly couple with a teenage girl and a young boy, who was in a wheelchair.

Driving along the beach (and hotels), the couple indicated to the driver that they wanted to get off (these buses don't stop at pre-assigned stops, but rather wherever people say they want to get on or off). 

The bus pulls over and the driver gets up and goes to the back of the bus, and he starts trying to work the device that make the bus wheelchair accessible.

But despite the driver trying to get the device to work, nothing happens.

The women and girl had already left the bus and where standing on the sidewalk waiting. The other people on the bus were waiting to get to their destination as well. And the man and the boy in the wheelchair seemed both embarrassed at the scene, but also worried how they were going to get this heavy wheelchair off the bus.

The driver pulls out some metal pole contraption and is trying to free the wheelchair accessibility device on the stairs--again, over and over--but still can't get the device to work. 

I thought about this poor family, but also about how dependent we are on technology and when it doesn't work--very often we are not sure what to do, because we just assume it will (like it always does, or is supposed to). 

When I saw that the driver was not going to be successful with getting the device to work, I got up and said to the man--can I help you (i.e. to help him with the wheelchair and boy).

Not sure how this elderly man and I would do it, I was glad when another man came forward and offered to help as well.

Between the three of us, we carried the boy and wheelchair down the stairs and off the bus, being careful that the boy was safe and comfortable. 

I was glad that we were able to help this family, but also continued to think that technology never will really be a substitute for people, because technology is not only developed, operated and maintained by people, but also that technology invariably can fail, and people must step up when it does. 

Technology is great when it works, but it is never failproof, so we had better be prepared for those days when systems go down and we must carry on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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December 24, 2011

Wheelchairs Get A Boost

I am very excited by this new assistive technology for personal mobility coming out of Japan that can be used to help the aged or handicapped.

Rather than have to buy a separate electric scooter for longer distances that is heavy and can be challenging for people with certain disabilities to use, the WHILL is a simple add-on that can be attached to and removed from a regular wheelchair and can be steered, like a Segway, simply by leaning in the direction you want to go.

The WHILL is high-tech looking--like a futurist headphone that you place over the wheels of the chair and according to Gizmodo, it turns the wheels with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers the chair up to 12 mph for 19 miles and then recharges in under 2 hours.

While pricing information is not yet available, my assumption is that this add-on will be significantly cheaper than a full-out electronic scooter.

One concern that I have about the WHILL is how someone who is wheelchair-bound will be able to attach/remove the drive-train device without the help of an aide or nurse. Perhaps an even more futuristic version will have the U-shaped WHILL built with push-button retractable arms, so that the attachment can simply "open up" rather than have to be removed.

Another question that I have is what safety features will be built in for example for automatic cut-off should someone using it get ill and keel over unto the device causing it to drive/spin out of control. I am thinking a weight-sensor on the WHILL that detects if too much of a person's body weight is leaning on it and then cause a safety shutdown.

Overall, I am encouraged by what WHILL will soon be bringing to help people in need to get around more easily in the future.


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