Widening the scope of disability aids with new device developments

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Be it from accident, disease or congenital defects; physical disability afflicts a large section of the population.  About 500,000 people become wheelchair users every year, and there are several thousand more who need some assistance in performing their daily tasks. For them, picking up a personal mobility aid like the ones available from Disability Friendly, an online company that provides aids for physically impaired people is the best solution.

 Although we are more familiar with wheelchairs, many other kinds of disability devices can address the specific needs of disabled people. For example, some people might not be able to make complete use of their hands and need some assistance to overcome the physical limitations.   Many such specific needs for different kinds of disabilities are the driving forces behind discoveries and inventions in the field of movement assisting devices for the physically disabled population.

In this article, we will discuss two inventions that are in the development stage, and once it makes it appearance, it would open a new vista for disabled people and raise new hopes of leading a near normal life.

Exo-Glove Poly

Some people might have lost the use of the hand as it has become non-functional for some reasons and there is no possibility of reversing the state.  Since the fingers of the hand do not move, such people are unable to grip anything thereby rendering the hand useless. The problem is much severe than one can imagine because it hurts too much that in spite of having a hand it is of no use. 

A Korean engineer Kyu Jin Cho and his team have developed a glove made from rubber-like material with just three fingers that fit on the thumb, index finger and middle finger. Wires attached to the fingers end up in a motor that helps to generates motion for moving the fingers. A switch is used to control the motor which when operational pulls the wires that causes opening and closing of the hand, and as a result, people can grip objects. The waterproof glove is attractive due to its simplistic operations and ease of use that outscores other similar inventions made earlier.

Imparting movement to paralyzed legs

Spinal injuries can paralyze the limbs and affect the hands and legs. Some injuries are so severe that it detaches the nerves connecting the limbs with the brain or spinal cord. A biomedical engineer named Ronald Triolo of Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University and his team has developed an electronic device to stimulate the nerves that are healthy but do not work as these are not connected. Just as a pacemaker facilitates heart contractions, the device generates movements in the legs. Implanting electrodes next to the affected nerves in the leg is the first step, and once the device is in place, doctors send electrical pulses to make the leg muscles move and start motion.

Ongoing research gives the hope of better devices in the near future that can address many complex issues of disability.   

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