Friday, January 29, 2016

High tech meets low tech: robotic arms gives girl mobility

Stories about robotic exoskeletons have been pinging around the internet for some time, but these devices are no longer just prototypes and things of imagination.

Maggie at the AT Lab getting her WREX arms adapted.
Maggie at the AT Lab getting her WREX arms adapted.
A few months ago, the Utah AT Lab encountered one such device with the potential to give Maggie, a little girl, strength and mobility in her arms she did not have on her own.

The device is known as WREX Wilmington Robotic Exoskeleton arms, as demonstrated by a YouTuber in the video below. The arms are lightweight and attach to mobility devices. They assist the shoulder and elbow by eliminating the effects of gravity.

The arms can help people with neuromuscular weakness accomplish everyday tasks like eating. However, Maggie's family was struggling to properly attach the arms to her adapted stroller. That's where the AT Lab stepped into help.

Chelsie, Maggie's mom, helping with the adapting process at the AT Lab.
Chelsie, Maggie's mom, helping with the adapting process at the AT Lab.
After an evaluation of the stroller, Cameron, the AT Lab assistant, made specialized wood brackets to attach the arms. 

"This was a unique solution to a unique problem, and that's what's so great about the AT Lab," he said, "Sometimes you have to use simple low-tech solutions to make a high-tech device work for an individual."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Gift of Recreation: USU’s College of Engineering, ICON Deliver Innovative Side-by-Side Cycle to Common Ground Outdoor Adventures

By Matthew Jensen
USU College of Engineering

Riding a bike for someone with a disability isn't always possible on an average bike, that's why USU students created the Tandemonium.

The College of Engineering at Utah State University and ICON Health & Fitness designed a student-built side-by-side tandem cycle that helps make outdoor cycling adventures possible for persons with disabilities. 

The finished bike was delivered in December as a much anticipated gift to the staff and clients at Logan’s Common Ground Outdoor Adventures.

The designers and engineers who created this unique quadricycle dubbed “Tandemonium.” 

The finished Tandemonium two-seater bike.
The specially built two-seater bike built by USU students.
Tandemonium was designed and built by a team of undergraduate students in the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering as part of their spring 2015 senior capstone project. Icon Health & Fitness helped fund the project and offered expert mentoring and manufacturing support along the way.

The two-seater cycle was completed in April and has since undergone some minor modifications in preparation for delivery.

In designing the bike, students concentrated on four important aspects: safety, accessibility, durability and portability. Safety challenges included turning radius, braking distance and visibility. The team wanted Tandemonium to be easily accessible for all body types and to be strong enough to ensure durability, but lightweight enough to be easy to transport. Tandemonium is unique because riders can use their feet or a hand crank to operate it.

Student designers say they were thrilled to be part of such an ambitious project.

“It was so easy to get tunnel vision and just design your part,” said student Laura Birkhold. “Everyone brought a different experience and expertise to the table, without which we wouldn’t have been able to build the bike.”

Tandemonium taught the senior design team how to effectively communicate, work together and overcome problems, an invaluable experience for their future careers as engineers. They also learned how to work together even when difficult challenges came up.

“My favorite part was seeing it all come together in the end,” added Birkhold. “For so long the bike was just a model on a computer screen or a list of parts we had to source. Seeing it actually in front of me and getting to ride it was the most rewarding experience of the whole project.”

Monday, January 11, 2016

Utah Legal Needs Survey

The Disability Law Center and Utah Legal Services are pleased to introduce the Utah Legal Needs Survey.

You know your community better than we do. You see the needs of your friends and family everyday and you want a safe and positive community for everyone. As non-profit law firms, you can help us prioritize our resources so we can better offer our free services to your family, friends and neighbors across Utah. Please, take a moment to share with us what you know.

Participate in the Utah Legal Needs Survey today and you'll be entered to win a $50 VISA GIFT CARD.