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Matia Robotics in Utah develops stand-up electrical wheelchair


For veteran Nevada fireman Bill Winchester, lightning struck twice.

The first time was in 2014, when Winchester was coaching for a 100-mile “century race” bicycling occasion. Riding close to his dwelling in Reno, Winchester ran right into a trailer that was illegally parked in a motorbike lane and suffered a extreme spinal damage that required a medical helicopter transport to a Denver hospital and two weeks in an intensive care unit.

But the damage to Winchester’s higher backbone left him paralyzed and he would later spend time rehabbing and studying to navigate his situation at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, a extremely regarded facility that focuses on spinal wire and traumatic mind damage rehabilitation and analysis.

Winchester would by no means return to stay within the dwelling he left that day for his coaching journey.

“Our friends and family packed us up and we moved to a rental since our home was a two-story structure,” Winchester stated. “And we made plans to build a new home to suit our purposes.”

A married father of three, Winchester didn’t let the end result of his accidents, which left him paralyzed from in regards to the stage of his armpits down, derail his lively way of life. Instead, he realized methods to journey a hand-powered bike and returned to the roads.

In 2016, Winchester was struck by a automotive whereas driving his handbike, and suffered extra spinal injury in addition to a traumatic mind damage. While he didn’t lose additional use of his higher physique, the second accident intensified the unwanted effects of his spinal injury, together with the onset of extreme muscle spasms.

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Bill Winchester jokes together with his son, Luke, that even on tippy-toe Luke isn’t as tall as Bill when Bill makes use of his Tek RMD at their dwelling in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, March 21, 2022. Spinal wire accidents from two biking accidents left Bill Winchester paralyzed from the chest down. The robotic mobilization system permits him to be cellular whereas in a standing place, which helps with circulation, bone density, and bladder and bowel operate. It additionally helps stop sores and stress factors that may be attributable to an excessive amount of time in a wheelchair and permits him to see eye to eye together with his family members when they’re standing.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Face to face issues

Between his first and second accidents, Winchester had been invited to check out a chunk of latest know-how developed by Turkish engineer and robotics skilled Necati Hacikadiroğlu. The innovation was a stand-up wheelchair that integrated a mechanism to assist elevate the consumer from a sitting place to a locked-in, stand-up place in an electric-powered mobility system that’s managed by a joystick. On first look, the Tek RMD is paying homage to a burly, four-wheeled Segue.

While Winchester, who’s 45, stated he hadn’t spent a lot time on the system previous to his second accident, it has since turn out to be a daily a part of his life and one that’s making optimistic impacts on each his bodily and psychological well-being.

“You don’t realize until you’re confined to sitting down how important the psychological benefits of face-to-face interactions are,” Winchester stated. “I spent 17 years in the fire services and emergency medical services world, and you build a sense of confidence with a patient through those face-to-face communications.

“And that’s how I feel when I’m standing in my Tek RMD.”

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Bill Winchester makes use of his Tek RMD to go to his in-laws’ home down the road together with his canine Remi in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, March 21, 2022. Spinal wire accidents from two biking accidents left Bill Winchester paralyzed from the chest down. The robotic mobilization system permits him to be cellular whereas in a standing place, which helps with circulation, bone density, and bladder and bowel operate. It additionally helps stop sores and stress factors that may be attributable to an excessive amount of time in a wheelchair and permits him to see eye to eye together with his family members when they’re standing.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Upright mobility, indoors or out

According to Tek RMD, Hacikadiroğlu developed the stand-up wheelchair as a derivative from work he was doing on exoskeletons, exterior frames, typically powered by motors, that may help the physique to beat accidents or to reinforce physique features.

Matia Robotics, the producer of the Tek RMD, was based in 2012 and earned European Commission approval to promote its system to European Union clients in 2015. The firm has since earned two U.S. Food and Drug Administration certifications for gross sales within the U.S.

The firm’s U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility resides in a 13,00-square-foot warehouse in Salt Lake City and is overseen by CEO Chris Tihansky, a veteran of the medical system sector. Matia additionally operates a facility in Istanbul, Turkey.

Tihansky stated Matia’s stand-up electrical wheelchair is designed to provide mobility to these affected by accidents and medical circumstances which have inhibited strolling talents and/or created new fall hazards.

“The Tek RMD mobility device can help people with a wide range of disabilities,” Tihansky stated. “Anything from spinal cord injury to someone with (multiple sclerosis) or cerebral palsy … essentially any kind of condition that requires a person to be in a wheelchair.”

Tihansky stated one of many distinguishing design components of the Tek RMD is the mechanism that aids the consumer in transferring from a sitting place of their wheelchair right into a standing and secured place within the RMD and might even place the system with a distant management for the switch.

“You can back the device up, using the remote, while sitting in a wheelchair or bench or bedside,” Tihansky stated. “You lift your legs into the footwells then a harness goes behind the user and snugs them into the device. Press a lever and the RMD lifts the user up. Once they’re in the upright position, a simple joystick controller allows them to maneuver in their space.”

Tihansky stated the Tek RMD, which retails for round $20,000, can qualify for reimbursement beneath insurance coverage managed by Veterans Affairs, Medicaid and Workers Compensation however isn’t coated by Medicare, which he famous doesn’t pay for any stand-up, powered wheelchairs for sufferers.

According to a Matia Robotics investor data package deal, the worldwide marketplace for powered wheelchairs in 2020 was almost $3 billion, and Tihansky stated there are 3.6 million potential customers within the U.S. alone. The firm is aiming to construct its market presence and additional develop its Tek RMD system, backed by over $8 million in debt and fairness financing thus far. The firm additionally has a $5 million spherical of enterprise funding within the works.

The Tek RMD is slender sufficient to maneuver by way of doorways and in restricted areas, can function for a day on a cost and is ready to cruise round on the tempo of a brisk stroll, round 3.5 miles per hour, in line with the corporate. While a normal system comes with wheels for indoor use, an non-compulsory outside wheel equipment offers the RMD a number of extra inches of clearance with greater tires and widens the stance from about 16 inches to 24 inches.

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Bill Winchester makes use of his Tek RMD whereas speaking with sons Luke and Jed at their dwelling in Reno, Nevada, on Monday, March 21, 2022. Spinal wire accidents from two biking accidents left Bill Winchester paralyzed from the chest down. The robotic mobilization system permits him to be cellular whereas in a standing place, which helps with circulation, bone density, and bladder and bowel operate. It additionally helps stop sores and stress factors that may be attributable to an excessive amount of time in a wheelchair and permits him to see eye to eye together with his family members when they’re standing.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

A lift for bodily and psychological well-being

Winchester stated that maneuverability and the RMD’s ease of use permits him a a lot larger stage of autonomy than what a normal wheelchair gives.

“I can get into a standing position … and go where I want,” Winchester stated. “Go to the garage and get something off the top shelf, make dinner, answer the door. The RMD gives you the flexibility to be almost, for the most part, independent.”

Winchester additionally highlighted the bodily advantages of utilizing Matia’s system, noting that whereas extreme muscle spasms and different ongoing results of his a number of accidents restrict him to an hour or two within the system a number of instances per week, being within the stand-up place helps enhance among the impacts of being within the sitting place.

Those advantages embody higher bowel and bladder operate, improved bone density, discount in stress sores and improved circulation, Winchester stated. And, maybe most notably, he stated it has large psychological impacts.

“It just makes a big difference in being able to feel respected,” Winchester stated. “When I’m upright in the device, I feel much more positive about myself … and feel like it’s much easier to relate, person to person.”




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