Archive for the ‘Assistance Devices’ Category

A Twitterer…er…rer…you get the idea…we can get into following

Check out this awesome story we found on Gizmodo.


Tony Niclinkson a massive stroke in 2005 that left him completely unable to move or speak. Check Tony out on the handle @TonyNicklinson. Using special software that follows the movement of his eyes on a keyboard and using blinks allows Tony to convert each selection into text and speech.

Despite this development, Tony’s story is pretty bleak. Living with a condition known as “Locked-in syndrome,” Tony is currently petitioning the High Court in the U.K. to let him end his life lawfully. Maybe having this kind of access to the world through this new software will change Tony’s mind.

Here’s a video of Tony’s story:

Paralyzed Man Is the First Person To Tweet With His Eyes


Your ADHD: Own It

Your ADHD Own It Guide

Maroon 5 frontman, Adam Levine, and American Deficit Disorder Association have teamed together to raise awareness for ADD and ADHD in their new campaign Your ADHD: Own It.

Visit to take the Adult ADHD Screening Test

ADHD Screening Test And while you’re there, sign up for a copy of Your ADHD Action Guide. The guide is FREE and sull of helpful tips, tools, and ADHD resources.

The leaders of CHADD and ADDA released the following joint statement: “There is a common perception among many young adults and adults that you can outgrow the ADHD you were diagnosed with as a child or adolescent. However, it is important for them to understand that this is not always the case and that the disorder can continue into adulthood.

Aimee Mullins speaks on the art of disability

“Pamela Anderson has more prosthetic in her body than I do and nobody called her disabled.” ~Aimee Mullins

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Aimee Mullins Speaks at TED 2009, posted with vodpod

Miniature Horses the New ADA Service Animal?


Ramouni and Cali

Mona Ramouni rides a SMART bus to her job with her guide horse, Cali, in Lincoln Park, Mich., Thursday, April 9, 2009. Ramouni lost her sight soon after birth, but she can't use a guide dog. Many Muslims consider dogs unclean, and Ramouni respects her parents' aversion to having one in their home. The solution, she hopes, is Cali, a miniature horse who stands 30 inches tall and is being trained to help Ramouni through her daily routine. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

e new Americans with disabilities Act guidelines have been shaking up the industry, and this particular news story demonstrates that perfectly — if a bit on the extreme side, but new and different nonetheless.

Most people who require the aid of a service animal use dogs. In some cases trained assistance monkeys have been used, but assistance dogs are the “norm”. But new federal guidelines in ADA also permit the use miniature horses!

Currently, five miniature horses serve as assistance animals to the blind.

The article mentions some of the benefits and some of the difficulties of using minis as assistance animals, such as, they don’t attract fleas but they do get other parasites like ticks. A mini is about the size of a Newfoundland dog so physically they aren’t larger than a dog, but they do require more physical space for living, a stall, and an environment in which they can move about and interaction with other horses. Both a dog and a mini can be houstrained, though dogs are fed and walked a couple of times a day whereas horses eat hay and grass and produce waste all through the day. Minis can be fed grass and hay in the form of pellets, though experts cautiuon that this can cause ulcers.

Overall, the choice to use a miniature horse as a service or guide animal is probably not going to be something that everyone opts for, and experts don’t believe that this is going to be a sudden trend that individuals in need of service animals will rush out to join. Though a few experts are worried that some individuals may rush into choosing a mini for a service animal and then leave them homeless if things don’t work out.

You can read the full Washington Post article here.

The article also introduces you to Michigan State University student Mona Ramouni and her miniature guide horsel, Cali. Ramouni chose to use a mini because of her family’s devout Muslim upbringing which consider dogs to be unclean. Ramouni has pushed hard for the acceptance of using miniature horses as service/guide animals, petitioning the Department of Justice to include minis in the new ADA law.

If you’d like to know more about Ramouni and her mini Cali, a blog has been set up to document their lives together, at

Associated Press. “Miniature Horse Is Lone Exception to Dog in Federal Law Governing Service Animals for Disabled.” The Washington Post. Associated Press, 31 Mar. 2011. Web. 04 Apr. 2011.


One of the many great things about the DSS program at GCCC/GCSC is that our interpreters for our deaf and hard of hearing students do their best to be present for the students needs in all facets of their college life here on campus. Our interpreters can be seen interpreting for our students not only in class but also during club and social meetings or outtings as well as during private meetings between the students and their professors, tutors, or other members of staff on campus. The program has worked so hard to make having an interpreter a staple in the college life of a deaf or hard of hearing student, that many people don’t know that there are other methods for which we can provide communication between an individual and one of our deaf or hard of hearing students. One such method is through the use of a piece of equipment called the UbiDuo.

The UbiDuo combines the ease of instant or text messaging with the speed of real time chat and the benefit of face-to-face communication.

Below is a great video that explores both the concerns deaf/hard of hearing and hearing persons have when communicating with one another as well as the barriers that are removed when using the UbiDuo.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

1st collector for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing – Communiphobia
Follow my videos on vodpod

Visit for more information on the UbiDuo. For our students, faculty or staff who wish to know more on the UbiDuo, see it in action, or give it a try for themselves, feel free to contact any member of our department.

Brain pacemakers may be the new medicine in treating psychiatric illness

brain pacemaker

Brain pacemaker of the future? Image via Julich Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine.

Earlier this week the Associate Press published an article on new research that is attempting to use pacemakers in the brain to control psychiatric diseases. You can read that story here.

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has proved to be a successful and powerful method of blocking the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. However, blocking mental illness isn’t quite so easy, the main problem being where exactly in all that gray matter of the brain should scientists put the brain pacemaker?

But scientists are pushing to expand research into how well these brain stimulators are able to tackle the most severe cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourettes’s Syndrome.

Unlike tremor patients, who may see immediate relief of their symptoms, psychiatric patients who respond to DBS tend to improve gradually. Doctors are also cautioning that just because symptoms may lessen with DBS, it doesn’t mean that they could or should abandon traditional forms of therapy. Furthermore, patients who undergo DBS as a method of treatment also require help learning how to function, much the same as hip replacement patients who undergo physical therapy.

If you would like to know more about the surgical process of DBS and the use of a brain pacemaker to control symptoms of psychiatric disability, continue reading this article which gives a very nice overview of all of that. The article also explains the difference between what DBS does for patients with Parkinson’s versus what is expected in its application of treating psychiatric illness.

What scientists have been able to deduce through research is that with the brain pacemaker, somehow behavior therapy begins working, perhaps enabling the brain to better remember lessons.

Continue reading here.

Neergaard, Lauran. “Trying Brain Pacemakers to Zap Psychiatric Disease.” Yahoo! News. Associated Press, 21 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Feb. 2011.

Snow Plow

While we Floridians may not have to live with the misery of snow, we do sympathize with those that have too. So for our brethrens to the North and West of us, we salute you for the terrible weather you have had to endure these past weeks and pass on to you a little humor. See, ingenuity comes to all ages.

ReWalk with Glee

This, the second season, of Fox’s hit show Glee has seen Artie become a football player (he and his teammates cleverly deciding to use Artie and his wheelchair as a battering ram on the field), and last week we saw him stand thanks to a wish to Santa from Brittany (who still believes ^_^), and the use of an ingenious robotic system called the ReWalk.


Kevin McHale as Artie from the hit Fox show Glee. Image via Google search.

Since first airing, the show’s Artie character has been a large source of praise and debate, being both praised for the show’s topical content on some very big social issues regarding disability to ctiticisms for not choosing an actor who is in real life a paraplegic.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, last week’s episode, A Very Glee Christmas (here’s a temporary link to watch the full episode), featured a unique device called the ReWalk from ARGO Medical Technologies Ltd. Founded in 2001 and located in Haifa’s MATAM hi-tech industrial park, Argo operated, until end of 2007, under the auspices of the TechnionSeed (formerly the Technion Incubator), part of the Technion – Israel’s renowned Institute of Technology. The ReWalk is the company’s flagship of innovative development of walk restoration devices for people with lower limb disabilities. The product offers an ambulation alternative to wheelchair users, enabling paralyzed people to stand, walk, and even climb stairs. Click here to read more on the ReWalk and how it works.


The ReWalk from ARGO Medical Technologies Ltd. Image via ARGO.

The ReWalk is a wearable, motorized quasi robotic suit that provides user-initiated mobility. Through leveraging advanced motion sensors, some sophisticated robotic control algorithms, on-board computers, real-time software, actuation motors, some composite materials, and good ole’ fashion rechargeable batteries, the ReWalk creates movement through sublte changes in the user’s center of gravity and upper-body movements.

Some of the benefits to this ultra-nifty device:

this user participation in mobility brings tangible health and emotional benefits. ReWalk™ is not just a vertical wheelchair – ReWalk™ restores the element of control over mobility so lacking for wheelchair users.

As any sedentary wheelchair user can attest, life in a wheelchair carries a hefty healthcare price tag. Serious problems with the urinary, respiratory, cardiovascular and digestive systems are common, as well as osteoporosis, pressure sores and other afflictions.

By maintaining users upright on a daily basis, and exercising even paralyzed limbs in the course of movement, ReWalk™ alleviates many of the health-related problems associated with long-term wheelchair use. In addition to relieving suffering, this has a real impact on healthcare costs – cutting yearly expenses almost in half, and enabling both insurers and individuals to redirect funds to other avenues.

Read more on the ReWalk here.


The ReWalk from ARGO Medical Technologies Ltd. Image courtesy ARGO.

The ReWalk not only has possibilities for personal mobility, its use would also drastically cut the need and cost of owning standing devices, stair lifts, bed lifts, and other mobility assistance apparatus or even the need of owning expensive powered wheelchairs. For theraputic institutions, the ReWalk has potential as a theraputic or physical training device, used for intensive functional locomotion therapy, and could replace the use of expensive mechanized gait trainers.

The ReWalk is designed for all day usage and requires the user to have the ability to use hands and shoulders and have a healthy cardiovascular system and bone density.

Videos of the ReWalk in action (other than its appearance in Glee ^_^), as well as some videos of its media coverage, are available on ARGO’s website.

Augie Nieto, the CEO of ALS Research

Augie Nieto

Augie Nieto laughs after his labrador, Hazel, jumps up on to his lap.
All images in this post courtesy The Orange County Register; ph. Leonard Ortiz

The September/October 2010 issue of Neurology Now has an awesome article on Augie Nieto, proclaimed the CEO of ALS Research. Co-founder of Life Fitness, a successful exercise equipment company, Nieto was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2004 at the age of 47.

The article is fantastic and delves into the details of the disease, Augie’s approach to marketing research on the disease and his use of his business acumen to help raise awareness and research funds (dubbed Augie’s Quest), and what research has found out about this disease, the new model organizations and labs are using to research the disease and Augie’s goals for ALS for the future.

Read the full article here at, or download the printable PDF version.

Aside from all the good information in the article, what caught our eye was, of course, the technology Augie utilizes to communicate, and even used to write a book.

Augie Nieto foot control

Augie controls his wheel chair mounted computer by using his toes and feet. The button on the left is used for a left-click and the right scroll wheel controls the cursor. The nautical themed board was made especially for Augie by the man that refinished his boat.

Augie Nieto foot control

With his feet in toe socks Augie selects letters on his computer screen to construct sentences which allows Augie to "speak" with a voice synthesizer. Augie wrote his latest book, "Reciprocity Incorporated", by using his toes to type out the words.

Augie and Lynn Nieto

Augie and Lynne Nieto chat in their Corona del Mar home. Augie has just finished his latest book, "Reciprocity Incorporated."

Augie Nieto

Using only his toes and feet Augie Nieto types out a sentence on the forward facing screen on his wheel chair mounted computer.
Ph. Leonard Ortiz for The Orange County Register

To see more images from the same article as the ones shown here and to read the related article, “Augie just wrote a book with his toes,” visit The Orange County Register or click here.

Augie is also the mastermind the technology seen above. Knowing that most people with ALS lose motor neurons in their peripheral nerves, Augie was also aware that certain types of ALS cause people with the disease to lose the ability to talk. With this knowledge, Augie was ahead of the curve, already thinking of ways to improve day-to-day living when his own voice began to falter. Finding out that his contractor, who was contracted to re-built Augie’s house for wheelchair accessibility, was a bit of a computer wiz, the two began developing TypeRight software, which allows people with ALS to type with their feet. Augie can type 40 words a minute using TypeRight.

Read the Neurology Now article, “The CEO of ALS Research,” to also read about a new device Nieto is currently testing that reads brain waves and translates them into data that can be read by a computer and translated into voice using voice-activated software.

Who doesn’t love a new home ^_^

Permobil moving

In order to serve your mobility needs, we are moving to our expanded state-of-the-art North American Headquarters on Thursday and Friday. We will re-open on Monday, November 8.

In case of emergency, please contact your local Sales Representative.

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