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A physical disability presents unique challenges for the individual, the family and the caregivers. Our wheelchair blog is here to empower all of you with tips, trends in wheelchair technology, wheelchair news, inspiring stories, insightful interviews, medical breakthroughs, helpful links, the latest in adaptive products, disability news, upcoming events and, of course, information about AMS Vans' wheelchair accessible vehicles. We focus on anything and everything that enriches your life and makes it easier.
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In a UCLA study funded by the National Institute on Aging, researchers found that the age group from 60 to 69 showed an increase in several disabilities over time in contrast to those between 70 and 79 and those 80 and over who saw no significant increases and in some cases actually showed fewer disabilities. Researches believe that this trend may in part be due to a change in racial and ethnic makeup of the group.
Teresa Seeman, UCLA professor of medicine and epidemiology and the study’s principle investigator, is quoted as saying: “if this trend continues unchecked, it will put increasing pressure on our society to take care of these disabled individuals. This would put more of a burden on the health care system to address the higher levels of these problems.”
The study is scheduled to be published in the January 2010 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
John Spletzer, associate professor of computer science and engineering at Lehigh University, believes that technology has the ability to “serve as a person’s feet, hands, and eyes” thereby enabling the disabled to interact with his/her environment.
The National Science Foundation recently awarded Professor Spletzer with a five year Career Award to develop a robotic wheelchair that will use high fidelity lasers and detailed maps to navigate through a crowded city without remote or human guidance. This project is actually a by product of two older projects. Spletzer and his students, working with University of Pennsylvania and Lockheed Martin, converted a Toyota Prius to a robot two years ago. “Little Ben” was equipped with laser and camera sensors. Of the 89 driverless vehicles Ben was one out of 6 who completed the 57 mile course in the 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge for robotic vehicles. And in a collaborative effort, engineers from Freedom Sciences LLC and Spletzer have invented the ATRS or Automated Transport and Retrieval System which enables wheelchair users to get into and out of their vehicles, stow and retrieve chairs and drive while sitting in traditional auto seats that meet all safety regulations.
Spletzer was quoted as saying “Our goal now is to extend the autonomy of the wheelchair so it can navigate completely in an urban setting and take you wherever you need to go. At the same time we want to download Little Bens’s hardware, convert it to software, which is much less expensive and upload it to the robotic wheelchair. This will give the chair the maps and images it needs to be able to interact with its environment”
Jack Benedick, Chris Waddell, and Sarah Will are the first adaptive skiers to be inducted into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame since 1984.
Some good and some bad news regarding voting accessibility for people with disabilities.