Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cutting-Edge Balancing Wheelchair Can Benefit Vets, Notes Veterans Disability Attorney

James Fausone
Veteran Advocate

A new technology may help vets in more ways than one.
A new wheeled chair which resembles a wheelchair but can go up stairs, over curbs and can even balance on two wheels to allow the rider to "stand" on two feet is an elegant solution for many disabled vets and civilians alike. The chair is the iBOT, invented Dean Kamen, the creator of the Segway.  The iBOT runs on the typical four wheels, can balance on two wheels when height is needed, and can traverse up stairs and go over curbs with no problem.  This new mobility is changing the lives of the few people who can use them, but they are not widely available and new iBOTS are not being manufactured.
The Huey 091 Foundation is working to provide an iBOT for any vet who wants one, whether from a recent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan or from a previous conflict.  Huey 091 is asking for donations from the public to jump start an iBOT manufacturing program and support program which will specifically employ veterans who will both build and service the iBOTS, potentially employing a yet-undetermined number of skilled vets. The foundation are hoping to get the support of the Veterans Administration, as well.
"The dual goals of outfitting more vets with iBOTs and employing vets to manufacture and service iBOTS could be of benefit to multiple groups," noted veterans disability lawyer James Fausone.
Governmental red tape, a lack of interest from the medical community and the exorbitant cost (current at more than $25,000) all stand in the way of getting the iBOT into the marketplace. That shut down means even current iBOTs that will need to be serviced to continue running smoothly for the few people who use them will not get the maintenance they need.
The iBOT has exceptional balance due to six gyroscopes which corrects and adjusts when the rider shifts his or her weight. It also modifies its position to allow the rider to 'stand,' allowing the individual to see over large crowds. The standing feature is an added benefit, says advocates, for combat vets who may experience anxiety when seated in a typical, "low" wheelchair in a crowd.

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