Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Disability

Disabled mice regained the ability to walk less than two weeks after receiving human neura...

When scientists at the University of Utah injected human stem cells into mice disabled by a condition similar to multiple sclerosis, they expected the cells to be rejected by the animals' bodies. It turned out that the cells were indeed rejected, but not before they got the mice walking again. The unexpected finding could have major implications for human MS sufferers.  Read More

This Corvette C7 Stingray is different than most in that its driver is quadriplegic and is...

What might it take to put a former Indy Racecar League driver back in the driver’s seat after a racing accident renders him quadriplegic? Perhaps a customized Corvette C7 Stingray, decked out by military and industry engineers to allow Sam Schmidt, now an owner of his own Indy team, to take back the metaphorical wheel.  Read More

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

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