Via Fox 5 NY
Students and staff at Fairfield University came together last week to surprise a sophomore student with a new wheelchair equipped with communicative technology, meaning she could ditch her damaged unit, which was being held together with duct tape.
“I was not expecting any of this,” Meg Moore, 20, told the school’s media department, with the help of a communication device. “My mom and I were still trying to fight the insurance, and the old motorized wheelchair was falling apart.”
Sgt. Rob Didato, of the Connecticut university’s public safety department, said he and others in his department noticed Moore struggling with the outdated chair, and decided to step in and help her.
“A couple of guys just got together and said it’s ridiculous that this girl can’t get a new chair, I guess it was insurance issues, and they said, ‘We should start a campaign,’” Didato said in a shared video.
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By SBS Insight
At a backyard pool party ten years ago, Dr Jordan Nguyen decided to attempt an especially creative jump from the diving board. Lacking control, he careered head-first into the water and felt a “massive crunch” in his neck as his head hit the bottom of the pool.
He was taken swiftly to hospital and found to have torn a number of muscles in his neck. It turned out to be a life-changing experience.
“It made me think, ‘what would life be like if this was a permanent thing?’,” he remembers, speaking with Insight’s Jenny Brockie on this week’s show. “And the next day when I was able to walk and move around I realised how lucky I [was], so I started looking into disability,” he says. “I had no clue about it.”
At the time he was studying his PhD in electrical engineering, but the experience saw him move towards biomedical engineering, learning more about neuroscience, robotics and artificial intelligence to see how they could assist people with disabilities.
“I learned all about the world of cerebral palsy [and other disabilities] and … I was finding people who were changing my perspective on life,” he says.
“People who were more motivated, who were more driven, who were doing more with [their] life than I was or anyone I knew, so I started thinking if technology could potentially provide a platform, provide a bridge to reach those goals, to reach those creative expressions, to reach the aspirations that you have, then let’s see what we can do with it.”
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Robotic exoskeletons have long been a staple of science fiction.
Now, Master of Information student Thomas Garside has collaborated with iSchool Professor Matt Ratto and a team of Engineering students and motion specialists from the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education to make such a device a reality.
A full-time student concentrating on critical information policy studies and knowledge management, Garside has limited mobility because of cerebral palsy. Normally he gets around with a cane, wheelchair or motorized scooter.
When he arrived at U of T, he knew that more advanced mobility aids were under development – and that their price put them out of reach.
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