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Disability

Kent Stephenson bends his leg, thanks to an implanted epidural stimulator

In 2011, 25 year-old paraplegic Rob Summers was able to temporarily regain limited use of his legs, thanks to an experimental technique known as epidural electrical stimulation of the spinal cord. Now, in a new study, Summers and three other paraplegic test subjects have shown even more promising results, thanks to the technology.  Read More

Upsee helps children who have motor impairments

"Necessity is the mother of invention" – it's an adage that fits in perfectly with the story of Israeli mom Debby Elnatan. She was faced with the challenge of walking with her son Rotem, who has cerebral palsy and cannot use his legs by himself. Helping her two-year-old move around unaided proved to be a very difficult task, prompting Debby to search for a solution. Now, the system she created for him has become a commercial product that could improve the lives of children suffering from motor impairments around the world.  Read More

The QuadStick aims to afford quadriplegics the ability to play video games

A new device called QuadStick is designed to give quadriplegics the ability to play video games without the need for a traditional gaming controller. Instead, it uses a series of sip and puff sensors, a lip position sensor, a push switch, and voice commands to represent the inputs of a standard video game controller.  Read More

A diagram of the experimental orthotic device

We've recently been hearing a lot about how exoskeletons can be used in rehabilitation, guiding patients' disabled limbs through a normal range of motion in order to develop muscle memory. The problem is, most exoskeletons are rigid, limiting their degrees of freedom to less than those of the body part they're moving. A team of scientists are looking at changing that, with a partial "soft exoskeleton" that replicates the body's own muscles, tendons and ligaments.  Read More

The C-Walker in use (Photo: DALi)

The C-Walker is a high-tech walking device that aims to safely guide people with cognitive impairments through public spaces like airports and shopping centers, reducing their reliance on visual signboards and avoiding obstacles in their way. Using onboard sensors, this "cognitive navigation prosthesis" monitors its environment in real time to figure out a path that poses little risk, actively re-planning it when it encounters problems like wet floors, or people dashing about. Aside from aiding senior citizens, the technology is expected to come in handy in factory settings, helping workers avoid danger zones and accidental collisions with machines.  Read More

The Woof to Wash washing is designed so that service dogs can open the door with their paw

UK-based appliance firm JTM Service is aiming to make life a little easier for individuals who rely on service dogs to get through their day-to-day life. These highly-trained dogs have are able to perform all sorts of remarkable tasks for their owners, and now, they can add doing laundry to the list.  Read More

'ReWalker' Gene Laureano crosses the finish line at the Generosity NYC 5K

Released two years ago, the ReWalk powered exoskeleton allows wheelchair users to walk upright again – albeit with the additional help of a pair of crutches. This past Sunday (Nov. 17), a group of ReWalk users from around the world got together in New York City, where they used their exoskeletons to take part in a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) charity walk.  Read More

A new algorithm could help hearing aids separate speech from background noise (Photo: Shut...

Despite some advances that have been made in the field, one of the continuing problems with hearing aids is the fact that they amplify background sound along with peoples' voices. While our brains are reasonably good at distinguishing between speech and distracting ambient noise, hearing aid users get the noise and the voice presented to them in one often-incomprehensible package. Researchers at The Ohio State University, however, may have a solution. They've developed a noise-filtering algorithm that's been shown to improve test subjects' recognition of spoken words by up to 90 percent.  Read More

The avatar monkey used in the research – although the test monkeys saw its arms from a fir...

Recently there's been increasing hope for people who have lost the use of their arms, as various research institutes have started developing prosthetic arms that can be controlled by thought alone. So far, all of the systems have just allowed users to control a single arm – for many of the tasks that we perform on a daily basis, that's simply not enough. Now, however, scientists at North Carolina's Duke University have succeeded in getting two rhesus monkeys to control both arms of animated digital avatars, using nothing but their mind.  Read More

The eSight headset in use

If someone has difficulty hearing, they can use a hearing aid to boost the level of sounds reaching their ear. If someone has limited vision to the point that they're considered legally blind, however, it's not like they can just use an electronic "seeing aid" ... right? Actually, that's just what eSight is.  Read More

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