Pushin' On: UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Volume 35 | Number 1

Pushin’ ON VOL 35 | NUM 1 2017 UAB Spinal Cord Injury Model System Digital Newsletter Headline News The University of Alabama at Birmingham Spinal Cord Injury Model System (UAB-SCIMS) provides Pushin’ On twice annually as an informational resource for people with spinal cord injury (SCI). UAB-SCIMS Program Director: Amie B McLain, MD Pushin’ On Editor: Phil Klebine, MA 529 Spain Rehabilitation Center 1717 6th Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35233-7330 Phone: 205-934-3283 TDD: 205-934-4642 Fax: 205-975-4691 WWW.UAB.EDU/SCI sciweb@uab.edu /UABSCIMS /UABSCIMS /UABSCIMS The contents of this publication were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90SI5019). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. ©2017 University of Alabama Board of Trustees. The University of Alabama at Birmingham provides equal opportunity in education and employment. Mayo Clinic researchers have helped a man with spinal cord injury (SCI) move his paralyzed legs, stand and make step-like motions. To do this, researchers used electrical stimulation on the spinal cord and intense physical therapy. The 26-year-old patient was originally diagnosed with a T-6, motor complete, injury 3 years prior to participating in the research. The project began with the patient going through three physical therapy training sessions a week for 22 weeks. The therapy was needed to prepare his muscles for attempting tasks during spinal cord stimulation. Following the physical therapy, he underwent surgery to implant an electrode in the epidural space near the spinal cord below the injured area. The electrode was connected to a computer-controlled device under the skin in his abdomen. After a three-week recovery period from surgery, the patient resumed physical therapy with stimulation settings adjusted to enable movements. In the first two weeks, the device was able to send electrical current to the spinal cord, enabling him to intentionally create movement. This intentional, or volitional, movement meant the patient’s brain was sending a signal to motor neurons in his spinal cord to move his legs purposefully. Read more... Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) have developed new wheelchair that takes people where other powered wheelchairs have gone before: the water. The PneuChair (patent-pending) has some unique features that allow the chair to float and propel over water. First, it uses high-pressured air tanks for driving power instead of traditional heavy batteries. These compressed air tanks are similar to those to what firemen carry. The tanks also help serve as floating devices. Second, the PneuChair is controlled using simple, low-cost electronics instead of traditionally expensive electronics. These features cut the weight of the PneuChair to about 80 pounds. This is much light when compared with battery- operated chairs that usually weigh between 300 and 400 pounds. HERL was already working on a prototype of the PneuChair when it was contacted by Sports Outdoor and Recreation (SOAR). SOAR asked HERL for help in developing a powered mobility option for its new splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland. The Wonderland, located in San Antonio, TX, is an ultra-accessible family-fun park for children and adults with disabilities. The PneuChair will allow family members, regardless of age or ability, to beat the summer heat. “Their needs and our research were essentially an ideal match,” says Rory Cooper, HERL director and distinguished professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at Pitt. “The potential to open opportunities for people with disabilities who need powered mobility to access splash parks, water parks, beaches or pools is transformative.” Read More...