Exciting new stuff at Rehacare 2015

Kapooosssh! That was the sound of my head exploding, trying to take in all the cool products and ideas on display this October at the Rehacare 2015 expo in Dusseldorf Germany. I was blown away. This show combines exhibitors (700+!) from the medical rehabilitation industry with lifestyle products for people with disabilities. It was chock full of exactly the types of products we hope to be featuring on AdaptMyPlanet.com once we get it up and running.

I learned about the event because while hanging out in Paris couple weeks earlier, I saw a guy speed by on manual wheelchair with a cool-looking motorized handlebar attached to the front. I’d never seen anything like it, so I ran downstairs and down the street to where I found him waiting for a bus. The product he was using, the Triride system from Italy, was impressive. I looked up the product online and saw that Triride was going to have a booth at this Rehacare thing, then looked that up and said Wow, I gotta go to that! So I did. It was the perfect place to learn about products suited for AdaptMyPlanet.com and frankly visiting the show helped me better define the mission of the website.

So here is a small, non-exhaustive collection of some of cool things I came across:

A new manufacturer, Indego, is walking into the exoskeleton market to join the ReWalk and Ekso guys in pursuit of a bionic solution to getting people with paralysis up and walking. This is the way to get your "Terminator-cool" look going! So far, the Indego system looks to be the best suited for independent use as it can stay attached to the user while seated in a wheelchair and allows for use without a spotter once you get the hang of it. It will be interesting to see these technologies continue to evolve.

A snorkel for people who have an irregular mouth shape or are not able or willing to close their mouth around a regular snorkel. www.tribord.co.uk/content/easybreath-snorkeling-mask

Flexyfoot demonstrated their handy attachment for canes and crutches, offering better contact with the ground plus shock absorption. They offer an option for an ice-gripper adapter. After seeing these displayed and hearing their customers talk passionately about them, I was suddenly aware of how helpful these attachments could be for regular cane users. www.flexyfoot.com/flexyfoot/flexyfoot-ferrules/

I laughed out loud when I came across JCM Elektronik’s hilarious display where a Pippi

Longstocking doll was slowing cruising around in a beanbag chair while a fan blew a pinwheel and a radio was playing Jimmy Buffett’s drinking anthem “It’s 5’Oclock Somewhere”. The display had a quirky, whimsical feel to it, but their unique product fills a serious need: it’s a transportation system for kids with little to no mobility to give them sensory stimulation and a way to possibly navigate around their house. You lay a special tape in patterns around the house and the cart slowly follows the lines. There are many variations on settings, ranging from no input from the child, to a setting where they could press a button to go and stop, to one where they could have it change to different tape tracks. Fun. www.jcmelektronik.se

Dot In Corp featured a “braille smart watch”, which connects to a smartphone so that you can read texts and other documents in braille on your watch. Now blind folks, too, can tune out their teachers and bosses during meetings like everyone else on their smart phones, but more discreetly! www.dotincorp.com

There were all kinds of lifts and elevators on display. This one from Hawle lets you get your inner-Batman on, going up and down even tight spiral staircases. www.hawle-treppenlifte.de

Tessier is coming out with a new wakeboard rig. www.dualski.com just in time for the southern hemisphere’s summer.

Know someone who has trouble remembering when to take which meds? The Vitality Smart Pill system sets up alarms on your smart phone, which will alert you which pills it’s time to take by the tray color. www.vitility.com

I have no idea what the cover story was about, but this German magazine had one heck of an eye-catching cover.

Activities

There was a hall of sports activities to try.

I had not heard of this one: Table Ball. It is like air hockey for people with visual impairments. The ball rattles so you can hear where it is.

​ Ballroom dancing demonstration

Wheelchair skate park. Get some!

A twisted German variation on the pinata

I'm kidding! This was a fun rock climbing activity area.

Trends

There were a few product categories I saw a lot of that I had never encountered before. According to the manufacturers I spoke with, some of the lack of products like these in the USA has to do with looser regulations and lower liability risks in Europe.

Segway-based wheelchairs. There were maybe 8 different companies making these represented. They buy actual Segways from the US and keep the chassis, but replace the stand-up handlebar with a seat and lower handlebar. Here’s one from a company www.Freee.de:

Battery-powered motor attachments for manual wheelchairs

While the TriRide system got me to the Rehacare show in the first place, they turned out to be one of at least 10 manufacturers with similar products. Some of them go over 40km/hr! I would be shocked if these don’t start showing up in the USA soon.

Standing mobility

Many wheelchairs and mobility devices focused on getting a permanent wheelchair user up into a standing position for therapeutic, functional and socialization purposes. A couple of them could go from a sleeping reclined position all the way to standing. Neat, huh? Like everything else mentioned in this post, we will have links to both the manual and powered versions of these on AdaptMyPlanet.com once we are up and running.

As a ski instructor for the National Ability Center, I grabbed a few ideas I thought might prove useful for the organization:

  1. Spread-metal modular ramp system. Knowing that the ramp to our Mountain Center can get slippery and require a lot of shoveling, I thought this could come in handy if we ever get around to redoing the building. The grate-like surface offers a good grip and the snow should fall straight through it. www.feal.se/sv/modul-systemramper/modul-systemramper.php. Note: After writing this, I heard the NAC had considered something like this, but opted not to use it because of cost and because the version they tested was slipperier for firmer wheelchair wheels.

  2. HugBike: a tandem bike where the arms of the person behind come along the side of the person in front. Developed by an Italian autism organization, the pedaling position offers a way to give the person in front an extra bit of support/comfort by having the arms of the person behind them alongside them. The NAC has a robust big bike fleet, but this might make an interesting addition. www.hugbike.com

  3. An interesting door design. The Italians strike again! With little force, the Zuin door is easy to push through in either direction. This could make life easier getting in and out of our Mountain Center. They offer additional features we don’t need light such as side lighting which can change colors to assist people with memory issues and the ability to have a track-based lifting system pass through the door. www.zuin.it/en/porte/rototraslante​

  1. Horse saddle seating attachment. This seat attaches to an English-style saddle (only) and

offers a lot of adjustability to accommodate people of different sizes and motion constraint needs. The NAC has a big equestrian program so perhaps they have something like this already, but I’m not familiar with it. This product is so new that the French manufacturer doesn’t have it on their website yet.

  1. Single-person transfer stool. Italians again! While the Vassilli guys had all kinds of fancy 4WD and standing electric wheelchairs, the thing in their booth that caught my attention was a lonely looking stool towards the back, hanging out like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree being upstaged by its technologically fancier cousins. “What’s that?” I asked.

quick transfers in a way that uses energy efficiently and is comfortable for the transferee. Pressing a foot pedal releases the angle of the stool down to the chest of the transferee. The transferee is then leaned over the seat cushion. The person doing the transfer pulls forward and up while stepping on a foot lever, which makes the “lift” extremely efficient. Once the seat comes all the way up, it locks in a vertical position. The middle of the base then can be swiveled Sit-n-Spin style to the new angle for the transfer. Pressing the foot pedal again releases the lock and allows you to lower the transferee to the new sitting location.​​

While you can extend the reach of the stool, I am unsure whether this would ultimately be helpful for transferring folks in and out of many sit skis (where we need this type of assistance most) because the base would need to be where the ski’s foot bed is. I put it in this NAC-bound consideration list, though, because it could be worth trying. www.vassilli.it They also have a light-weight, foldable travel version.

So that is my wrap up for this year. There were MANY MANY more interesting things on display, hopefully all of which we will soon be accessible via AdaptMyPlanet.com. While there were over 700 exhibitors this year, apparently Rehacare is even bigger every two years, with next year being a bigger one. Hopefully by this time next year AdaptMyPlanet.com will be an active resource for those looking for lifestyle products…and I hope can go again!

#trends

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