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Paralyzed man designs innovative wheelchairs

Shared by Maria Inês Lobato on 2017-11-08 12:52

About the solution

Rory Cooper was in the army serving in Germany when a bicycle accident left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Cooper designed innovative wheelchairs and other assistive technology equipment that has greatly improved the mobility and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans and other Americans.

He created personal vehicles that enable disabled individuals to access terrain that their wheelchairs were unable to traverse. He currently is working with architects to redesign living spaces that incorporate smart technologies in lighting and heating to increase the independence and self-sufficiency of those with disabilities. And he has been involved in improving prosthetics for those with no motor ability, and technologies for those with multiple amputations.

That event has shaped his life’s work on behalf of the disabled as a research biomedical engineer.

In 1989, Cooper founded and still directs the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, a collaboration between the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System and the University of Pittsburgh. The laboratory is dedicated to improving the mobility and function of people with disabilities through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation.
“My time in the Army drives me to do the work I do”. “I get my energy from the veterans. If you have the ability to make a difference, you also have an obligation”, Cooper said.

As a competitive athlete, both before and since his injury, Cooper has become a leader in the wheelchair sports arena. His contributions as an inventor have made many sports—such as basketball and rugby—possible for others in wheelchairs. Cooper competes in these games himself and mentors fellow athletes, proudly displaying his own medals for wheelchair racing.

He founded the nation’s leading assistive technology research laboratory and has been the driving force behind game-changing innovations in the design of manual and power wheelchairs, adaptive sports and recreational equipment, and rehabilitation instrumentation.

“Rory Cooper’s inventions are used by over one-quarter million people with disabilities, and research equipment he designed is being used in nearly 100 laboratories and training facilities around the world,” said Dr. Brad Dicianno, the chief operating officer and medical director for the Department of Veterans Affairs Human Engineering Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Cooper is developing technology to increase the independence of people with spinal cord injury or disease and equipping them with the skills necessary to operate new technology.

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This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Rory A. Cooper, born in USA, in 1963, was paralyzed and since then he has devoted himself to push assistive technology forward by inventing and improving the products people with disabilities rely on and fighting to raise the public’s awareness of their needs.

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