If you haven’t been keeping up with the latest advances in research for solutions to enhance the lives of those with physical disabilities, you might be surprised at what’s become possible. From improvements in prosthetic options to advancements in employment psychology, let’s run down the list of how science is working to enhance the lives of this unique community.
With the recent spotlight on physical disabilities — both from legal and functional standpoints — a great deal of progress has been made in improving capabilities and enhancing lives. The combination of science and technology has brought about advancements in both quality of life and the ability of persons with physical disabilities to contribute in the workplace.
Creating a seamless connection between the brain and prosthetics
A joint venture between Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has spent the last 8 years focusing on the development of brain-computer interfaces for controlling advanced prosthetic limbs. The ultimate goals is to create the brain-control of artificial limbs as seamless and natural as possible.
For the individuals with physical impairments who have been elected to test these new technologies, the results have been absolutely life-changing:
Still an invasive procedure. The brain-computer interface technology involves a fairly invasive surgical procedure that implants electrodes
Drawing interest from big names. The commercial potential for this type of research has drawn the interest of such names as Elon Musk, Bryan Johnson, and Facebook
Individuals donating their time. Many of the persons with physical disabilities are donating their time, effort, and energy to help move this project along
While the research is still in its development phases, those disabled persons involved see themselves as pioneers in a project that might not even help them personally — but one with the potential to help the community in the very near future.Discover new #research methods to enhance living with #PhysicalDisabilities Click To Tweet
Psychological advancements in the search for meaningful employment
One of the largest challenges facing the worldwide workforce is the under-utilization of persons with such impairments as spinal cord injuries — at a cost of around $500 million annually according to a recent Australian government survey. In this particular investigation, just 35% of adult Australians with a spinal cord injury are gainfully employed.
In an effort to reverse this trend, lead researcher Dr Diana Dorstyn, a clinical psychologist and lecturer within the Adelaide University School of Psychology, has created an innovative online resource — organized into three national pilot programs — targeting the specific needs of adults with physical disabilities.
Pilot one for multiple sclerosis. Results published in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation showed significant improvements in the confidence and mental well-being of participants
Topics covering work-ready factors. A series of modules that include worksheets, hyperlinks, and the opportunity to correspond directly with a psychologist focuses on managing disability in the workplace, interview preparation and resume writing
Addressing pre- and post-hiring challenges. People with physical disabilities enjoy greater confidence about the job-search process and empowers them with new ways to access support from employers and colleagues as they begin a new job
This reputation of this research experience and its accompanying plans for robust expansion has grown at such a fast pace and with such success in individual communities that it is being considered for international promotion and collaboration.
Augmented reality with potential to change the shopping experience
While advancements in wheelchair access for users in public facilities has improved over the past decade, there are still challenges to be faced for persons with physical disabilities. For example, store shelving still presents difficulties for browsing products from the wheelchair level. However, the introduction of augmented reality might change everything.
Designed primarily for those with hand impairments, an app added to a smartphone or tablet gives users a distinct visual of store shelves as the products that they contain. The app presents a layout of the shelves that users can access to discover information like product details and availability. Information is updated in real time, allowing user to make their selections — with store staff members assembling purchases in a basket for purchase.
The result is users with the ability to browse and shop with much less assistance required from store staff and other shoppers. This new level of independence empowers those with physical disabilities with greater confidence and abilities to navigate stores at their own pace.
AMS Vans offers robust options for mobility freedom for persons with physical disabilities. Browse our 24/7/365 virtual showroom online for a wide selection of new and used wheelchair accessible vans at prices that are more affordable than you might expect.
About AMS Vans
America’s Mobility Van Dealer is a national wheelchair accessible van dealer and manufacturer with a mission to deliver the industry’s best adaptable vehicles and mobility equipment that meets the unique needs of our customers at a price they can afford.