A research and development company in Istanbul has developed a new device that they hope will replace traditional wheelchairs for paraplegics. The device, dubbed the Tek RMD, has the user strap into it and then provides handles with which the user can lift themselves into an upright position or lower themselves into a sitting position. Not only that, but the Tek RMD stabilizes the user so that they are free to use both hands. The RMD is motorized and has a remote that can be used to bring it to the user.
Below is a fascinating video AMS Mekatronic, the R&D company, has put on their site to demonstrate the concept. In it, the company claims several things make the RMD special.
The design of the device is such that the users can strap in without having to swing themselves around 180-degrees the way they would when using a wheelchair. I imagine, as the video shows, that swinging yourself out of bed or off the toilet be one of the hardest, yet most frequent, difficulties when using a wheelchair.
The company claims that paraplegic people must be in a standing position for at least an hour per day as a form of exercise (I had no idea). Obviously the RMD would allow that exercise to take place throughout the day. And, as I mentioned, it allows the user to use both hands in a way leg braces or walkers do not.
The dimensions of the device, 32cm x 62cm, are small when compared to a wheelchair. This means narrow hallways or store shelving would no longer be as much of an obstacle.
One of the things only mentioned in passing in the video hit me the hardest: the RMD would allow users to converse with the people in their lives at eye-level. I find it hard to contemplate what the psychological effects might be of always sitting and looking up at others. It would be like constantly watching Citizen Kane.
Is this new scooter-Segway-thing the creative enough to replace the tried-and-true wheelchair? Let me know by leaving a comment below.