Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 35 | Number 2 - Page 4


Manual Standing Wheelchair

The Center for Bionic Medicine has developed an innovative manual standing wheelchair . It allows manual wheelchairs users the ability to propel the wheelchair while seated or standing , or in the full range of positions in between . The wheelchair is designed with unique tank tread-like push bars so users can manually drive the wheelchair . A lap belt and knee restraint keep users safely positioned during use .
Aside from the obvious increased independence that standing offers , users can also interact with others eyeto-eye .
There may be physical benefits as well . It may :
• reduce the risk of osteoporosis , muscle spasticity , and contractures ;
• help to relieve or prevent pressure wounds ; and
• improve cardiovascular , digestive , and renal function .
The chair is not available for purchase yet but is currently being refined and evaluated at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab ( formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago ), which is the home of the Midwest Regional
Spinal Cord Injury Care System . The hope is that the wheelchair will be commercialized in the near future .

ARKE Exoskeleton

Exoskeletons have been around for a while now . In fact , they were first noted as a “ walking aid device ” in Tech Watch back in 2007 . Although the technology has advanced over the last decade , exoskeletons have yet to make it into mainstream use .
The ARKE Exoskeleton is a good example of those advances in technology . The second generation prototype is light , powerful , efficient , and perhaps most importantly , able to achieve a comfortable and natural walking gait .
But that ’ s only part of the story . Most powered exoskeletons need guidance from the user , or a rehab specialist , regarding what it is expected to do . Be it fully supporting a walk , or just assisting with staying upright , the exoskeleton can only do something if it ’ s directed to do a specific task , and that is usually done by pressing buttons on a device .
The ARKE exoskeleton now has Amazon ’ s Alexa Voice Service integrated into it . This means it can now switch between different modes with voice commands . For example , saying “ Alexa , I ’ m ready to walk ” immediately engages the exoskeleton to follow that command .
The ARKE exoskeleton is a powered hip-knee exoskeleton for gait rehabilitation . It is being developed by the Bionik Laboratories Corporation . The ARKE is designed to utilize machine learning and analytics to improve neurological rehabilitation . This is done with the help of a collaboration of IBM and their IBM Cloud technology . Data collected while using the ARKE is processed by IBM ’ s Cognitive Computing Infrastructure in addition to using sophisticated machine learning algorithms .
The purpose is to use the analytical data to find a correlation between rehabilitation regiments and the effectiveness of neurological rehabilitation .
Design goals :
• Hip-Knee powered exoskeleton
• Provide gait rehabilitation
• Provide secondary effects
• Improved circulation
• Reduction in loss of bone density
• Improved bowel and bladder function
• Improved mental health
• Improved sleep quality
• Collect and analyze data using IBM cloud
• Integrated tablet control
• Carbon fiber , aluminum , and steel construction
The ARKE is still in clinical development but is expected to soon be in rehabilitation facilities . Hopefully , physicians will one day prescribe it for a patient to use at home .
4 uab . edu / sci
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