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Professors with disabilities develop mobility device to improve balance while walking and running

Shared by Sara Di Fabio on 2020-06-03 13:42

About the solution

Stephen and Elizabeth suffer from disabilities and they also teach disabilities studies at the University of Maine. In 2008, Elizabeth was training for a triathlon but, while training, she realised her terrible balance would prevent her from participating.

“We looked around for a device, and we could only find stigmatized, ugly devices,” Elizabeth said. “Stephen’s background is in art. I said, ‘Let’s invent something that looks good and that functions, too.’”

Stephen, Elizabeth and Vince, a friend and mechanical engineer, they came up with a prototype for the mobility device called Afari.

Afari is a three-wheeled device that allows users to stand up straight as they walk or run with the balance and stability support they need. Afari has breaks and active steering.

“We wanted a design that would be functional, that somebody would be proud to use in public,” Stephen said.

“People are stooped over. You feel sorry for them. They look debilitated,” Elizabeth said. “My dad, who is 93, uses a wheeled walker. He doesn’t want to go out in it. It’s embarrassing. Whereas, if you see the Afari, people walk over and say, ‘Wow, isn’t that cool.’ You stand up straight. You look them in the eye. It’s functional — you can go anywhere.”

Afari has been through seven design cycles and became the flagship for Mobility Tech, a company started as a partnership with the University of Maine. “We’ve got people with brain tumors that are running again. I honestly didn’t expect the overwhelming positive response. Now people can go outside their homes without being afraid of falling. It’s more than physical health. The social aspect is amazing, too,” Ryan Beaumont, CEO of the company said.

Adapted from: https://bangordailynews.com/2019/09/29/news/midcoast/they-couldnt-find-a...

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

Stephen Gilson and Elizabeth DePoy from the USA, are professors at the University of Maine. When Elizabeth was training for the triathlon, they realised there was a lack of mobility devices that would not look bad. So, with the help of their friend, Vince Cacesse, they developed the mobility device Afari.

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