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On the Blog


How Orthotronics Can Help You Walk Again

For those who have suffered life altering injuries leaving their legs paralyzed or with limited mobility, the dream of leaving your wheelchair might now be possible! The C-Brace is the world’s first electronic knee joint orthosis system with hydraulic stance and swing phase control that attaches to your leg and allows the wearer to walk. Yep, you read that right.

According to Ottobocks, the makers of the brace, the orthotronic mobility system supports the user while walking and is able to recognize different leg movements. The brace is made up of a foot component, a spring element, lower leg shell and a thigh shell, the knee angle sensor, control buttons, the battery and microprocessor to receive sensor signal.

See, what makes the C-Brace revolutionary is its Stance and Swing Phase Control Orthosis (SSCO) that works together with the microprocessor. When you swing your leg forward with the brace on, the microprocessor measures your joint movement every .02 seconds which allows the brace to respond and regulate the required support for any movement immediately thus moving your legs to walk.

This brace is helping people get back on their feet again and Ottobocks has a dedicated success stories blog on their website. Stacey Kozel is one of the many who has experienced her newly found freedom and taking it one step further. She’s started a path towards increasing awareness for the C-Brace by hiking the 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail while wearing the brace. Her story has been covered from well-known media outlets like CNN and NBC to the Washington Post and the Huffington Post! With a price tag of $75,000 a brace, Stacey knew she couldn’t afford it and reached out to her insurance for help. But it took her a year of insurance denials and appeals until the braces were no longer seen as unnecessary and was able to received braces for both legs, she told the Washington Post. She hopes that those that qualify for the C-Brace that don’t know they exist or get an insurance denial will be more informed and encouraged to not give up towards the dream of walking again.

There is a small catch to this brace though. In order for the C-Brace to be effective you must be able to swing your leg from your hip and like all medical devices you have to work with you doctor or orthoptist to see if you are a candidate. It’s important to fully understand how the brace works and practice with it due to the learning curve. The great news is that if you are a candidate your insurance may be able to help you cover the cost and the C-Brace Reimbursement team is always happy to work closely with each individual. For more information about the C-Brace, visit www.ottobockus.com/c-brace.html






Apple Watch

Apple Watch Expected to be Wheelchair Compatible in the Near Future

By now, most of you have heard of Apple’s newest innovative creation, the Apple Watch. It’s a handy watch that has some capabilities of a phone like reading your messages, opening photos, and setting notifications, but what makes it stand out is its full capabilities of a fitness tracker! It encourages wearers to exercise and reminds them to stand up and walk around. It’s a pretty neat idea, except if you’re in a wheelchair you probably won’t be able to use the fitness tracker too much to your advantage.
Good thing Apple decided to change that. By fall of this year, the watch will get a new software update that will be compatible with wheelchair users. So instead of showing “time to stand” and getting up to walk around, the watch will show “time to roll” prompting to wheel or spin the wheelchair. And that’s not even the best part! According to Apple, the watch will also be able to track distance, speed and calories burned when you’re in a wheelchair just like if you were walking or running. Wheelchair specific workouts will also be included with the new update, which makes it easier for anyone to be a little bit healthier.
To pull this off, Apple couldn’t use the formulas used to track stand-alone fitness because new information needed to be calculated. They started from scratch and incorporated factors like different seat sizes, wheel heights, different surfaces the wheelchairs are used on, the different pushes to move a wheelchair up a ramp or through obstacles, and whether the disability was from a spinal-cord injury or muscular dystrophy. They were able to create the formulas by recruiting 300 people in wheelchairs and acquiring over 3,000 hours of activity research.
Now that the Apple Watch will be a fitness tracker for both stand-alone users and wheelchair users, it will definitely have an advantage to other fitness trackers such as Fitbit which only have stand-alone functions. This could also increase sales numbers for Apple, but Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, stated that the new update isn’t about market opportunities. “We want to make products that serve every walk of life,” said Williams in an interview with US News.



Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Infographic

There’s a lot to know about spinal cord injuries (SCI) and we’d like to share a few key facts about SCI in the United States. Take a look at our infographic above to learn some new and updated information about SCI within the past years.


Google Will be Investing $20M in Technology for Disabilities

Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org organized the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities in May 2015 to “seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious ‘what ifs’ for the disabled community,” Google.org director, Jacquelline Fuller, posted online. The $20 million grant will be distributed between the 29 winners and reach over 50 countries with their projects.

Google.org claims that it’s different than the others before, claiming that it is an agnostic organization and therefore can be more objective than individuals who might be more passion-driven about the issues they pick. Google is not only willing to help the nonprofits with financial support but also with their tech expertise to create efficient, affordable services and products.

They kicked off the challenge by supporting the Enable Community Foundation with a $600,000 grant to advance on its hand designs, improve fit, and increase the number of people who can benefit from its devices. Another nonprofit who received a $500,000 grant from the start is World Wide Hearing. They are developing a low cost tool kit for hearing loss using smartphone technology that will be widely available and affordable to most families including those in the developing world.

There are more than 1 billion people living with disabilities worldwide, and Google.org hopes to improve their lives, no matter how big or small the ways.

Sources: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-announces-winners-of-20-million-disability-grant-challenge-tech-2016-4?r=UK&IR=T





BMW shows the US Paralympic Team their Support

This year’s Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will definitely be one to remember. BMW designed an aerodynamically efficient, carbon-fiber racing wheelchair that will be customized for each Team USA athlete participating in the marathon and track events. The chairs were created by the same team, BMW’s Designworks, which designed the carbon bobsleds for Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

BMW’s Designworks started the project almost a year and a half ago. Paralympic gold medalist and six time world champion wheelchair racer Josh George has been working closely with the team and has been one of the few to test the chair. The three aspects the team wanted to improve were aerodynamics, the stiffness of the chassis, and how it fits the athlete’s body.

In an interview with Composites Manufacturing Magazine, George explains, “If I’m pushing the BMW and other racers are pushing aluminum frames, I’m going to be able to go the same speed as them with less energy exerted. That means at the end of a race, the last 5K, the last 10K, I’m going to have more in the tank than they are.”

It wasn’t until the 1980s, that companies began to build custom wheelchairs designed for racing competitions. Now thanks to the growing popularity of the sport, there are even companies that design wheelchairs just for racing like Honda in Japan.

George tells CNN, “It really shines a light on the fact that we are athletes first, we’re not wheelchair users.” The chairs will be available in time for the Paralympics starting in September 7, 2016  in Rio.






LEGO unveils new wheelchair minifigure

After one of the toys was seen at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, Lego confirmed that they were introducing a new minifigure of a boy in a wheelchair. Lego, Hasbro, Fisher Price and other toymakers have been under pressure to include disabilities in some of their figurines.

The online campaign #ToyLikeMe asks Lego to “please make this the last Christmas disabled kids are culturally excluded from your much-loved products.” The petition has accumulated over 20,000 signatures that call on Lego to use its toys to “help generations of kids, (both with and without disabilities), grow up with a more positive attitude to human difference!”

There’s a distinct lack of toys that embody the 150 million disabled children around the world, according to founder Rebecca Atkinson. In a statement posted online she says “Lego have just rocked our brick built world and made 150 million disabled kids, their mums, dads, pet dogs and hamsters very very happy.”

According Lego’s spokesperson in Britain and Ireland, Emma Owen, the wheelchair figure is part of the Lego CITY set and will be available to the public in June 2016. The 15 piece set features “urban residents” that includes a family, four children and a baby.

Looks like we can go Christmas shopping in June!

For images click here!

Sources: http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/28/news/companies/lego-wheelchair-minifigure/?iid=EL