Robotic wheelchair improves mobility
March 26th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Robotic device helps paraplegics stand, company says

For someone who is handicapped, everyday tasks that most of us take for granted can be difficult. Simply reaching the top shelf at the grocery store, getting out of bed in the morning and even opening a door can be a struggle.

AMS Mekatronic, a Turkish research and design company, has introduced an innovative robotic device that transforms the concept of the traditional wheelchair.

The Tek RMD, or Robotic Mobilization Device, gives someone who is disabled the ability to stand upright, move around and be put in a more "comfortable position," its creator says.

A video demonstration of the device posted by AMS Mekatronic shows Yusuf Akturkoglu, the victim of a spinal cord injury, sitting in a bed using a remote to move the Tek RMD in front of him. He can mount the device from the rear by strapping himself in and pulling himself up. Using a suspension system with gas spring balances, the user needs only to gently pull on the device's handles to rise into a standing position.

When CNN asked him about the Tek RMD, Akturkoglu said it gives him greater mobility than he had before.

"I can live my life much closer to my life before the accident," he said. "I can fit into places that I didn't used to," and the psychological impact of communicating at eye level, instead of having to look up all the time, has made him more social.

Inventor Necati Hacikadiroglu told CNN he created the device because he has "always believed robotic technology could make a difference in disabled people's lives."

He says he designed the Tek RMD with a rear-mounting mechanism that will aid those who have difficulty getting into a normal wheelchair.

"You [normally] have to lift your body with your arms and throw your body into the chair." For a lot of people, this is difficult and can be "very dangerous without outside assistance," he said.

The Shepherd Center in Atlanta specializes in treating and rehabilitating victims of spinal cord injuries. John Anschutz, manager of the Assistive Technology program at the center, says it's important that the new device allows users to navigate very tight spaces.

"I don't know of a traditional wheelchair that can get into tight spaces like the [Tek RMD] can," he said. "To allow access to small-type spaces and allow for reach in those environments is really exciting."

But he also says that this device may not replace the traditional wheelchair.

"I suspect that this would not be used as a primary chair. It seems that it's more useful in a home or office environment."

The Tek RMD costs $15,000 and is sold in Turkey. There is not yet a distributor in the U.S.

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Filed under: Discoveries • News • Robots
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Auchie

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    April 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  2. Liliana

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    April 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
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    April 2, 2012 at 7:24 am |
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    April 2, 2012 at 12:11 am |
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    March 31, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  6. Therapist

    There are several standing wheelchairs available in the states. Take a look at http://www.thestandingcompany.com/ or

    http://www.dekaresearch.com/ibot.shtml

    March 28, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Lorrie

      Thank you for this article. My son @23 years of age, had a fall which left him a quadriplegic. However, he was able to obtain a license and drove until his used vehicle broke down. Robert is now 34 years of age and is still grieving and angered. I would love to see if he's able to utilize this chair. Although he is determined to be a quadriplegic, Robert does things some paraplegics aren't capable of.

      April 7, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  7. sean

    this is great. pricey for now, but what a difference this could make until the medical field finds a way to repair spinal cords.

    seems as if this was combined with segway technology it would take it up a notch.

    March 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  8. Marley

    This is WAY cool! I love that it addresses the psychosocial aspect of spinal cord injury too.

    March 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  9. popeye1128

    They may come up with some kind of reasonably priced exo-skeleton device before the ability to repair spinal cord injuries. Nice to see things like this are being developed.
    Best wishes to those who are wheel bound.

    March 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  10. Yes1fan

    They should build an alternate version for those who have full arm use, that can convert from a wheel chair, to something like this, but the mobility is manual, rather than motorized.

    March 27, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  11. signed

    @desertrat: i just couldnt let it go brother. First off, sorry you grabbed wheels man. Secondly, be wary of these "good sentiments". You could end up drowning in the hypocracy like so many others. Thats not good battle condition. Lastly, my grandfather grabbed wheels after a scaffold accident for the last twelve years of his life. I was around two. Didnt really know him altho spent most of my time around him. It was said he was just waiting to go the whole time. In my line of work some say its not falling and dying i fear, its falling and living. I should think an aperatus like this could possibly change the world im many positive ways. Good luck to all.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • ann onymous

      @signed as the sibling of someone who "fell & lived" in her line of work... it's been a hard road since, but everyone who loves her is still glad she's alive & so is she, despite encountering some seriously screwed-up individuals. Living with a disability is one thing, knowing there are people in the world who think that that's all there is to know about you is another.

      Be careful "up there."

      March 27, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  12. Sun

    Sci-fi becomes reality! Anne McCaffery had something similar in some of her books, altho the device actually mimicked walking. Soon, soon!

    March 27, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  13. Big marv

    I think that these kinds of innovations would give so many disabled, regardless of how they became so, hope for a better, more productive life. As with most advancements in technology this will spur further research and developement. Who knows, perhaps one day soon those folks will be able to walk with robotic assistance. The future is bright, so bright i gotta wear shades :-).

    March 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  14. desertrat144

    For similar devices & how to DIY, see Instructables & HackADay (both .coms). Folks are working on mobility issues for us paras. The R&D for a company is up there, especially to reduce product liability. The DIY types that make things small scale dodge that issue and insurance companies dabbling in the professions.

    To the guys getting tired of the 'Thank Yous' for doing the right thing, enjoy it while the national mood and VA SCI/D is still funded for SC & NSC presumptive treatment. Also, a Thank You is way better than a 'F___' or spit on for doing the right thing. Enjoy the ride while the national mood favors you, take a lesson from Tet on to see how easy that mood can be manipulated.

    BT [almost] DT

    March 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  15. One who signed

    One more thing. To natuzee: i recently received an article from a family member on artificial sweeteners and their possible link to misdiagnosis of certain muscle conditions including ms. Worth investigating? Good luck.

    March 26, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  16. One who signed

    also i agree about the whole hero thing. Not quite so vehemently, but it does get tedious to be thanked constantly for doing the things we did. And are you even remotely more free than you as american people than you were before we started noble eagle?

    March 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
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      April 6, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  17. One who signed

    bob is right, we did all sign. Some repeat offenders. Do we all not learn from our mistakes. Some do not that is for sure. But if this device can help someone be able to make peace with his demons, through physical acts for instance, then it could be good. Insurance companies, pharmaseuticals and the fossil fuel communities should be held responsible for their theaters and accountable for all those trillions and the wreckage they are leaving behind. Somebody has to know how to make that happen.

    March 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  18. G~

    Dean Kamen & DEKA Research had something like this many, MANY years ago (as some have already said). It was the forerunner for the Segway, actually. Sadly, the insurance companies deemed it a "luxury" and would not cover it. My guess .... they won't cover this either, no matter its benefits

    March 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  19. ma & pa

    Thank you, everyone, for your explanatory comments. As we wrote comment 1, our thought was of some who have struggled in "civilian" life against mostly unrecognized and well organized enemys of true freedom, and have been injured or killed. @bob, we didn't intend to get near a painful nerve of yours or anyones. We are sick of wars, too, including in the home, and diplomacy is better, but we must not give up. We remember clearly what we told our little childs, about wars and the origions of wars. Some of our nations best get in there trying to protect every freedom we value, including the freedom to speak our points of view on these blogs. That's more than dictatorships allow.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  20. Rich

    The only trouble is the heros were sent to the wroung countries thanks to W...The hijackers were from Saudi Arabia ...

    March 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  21. kptnkrunk

    It's great to see technology being used to help people instead of just coming up with another iPad with better resolution. I hope the US can start producing these here.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  22. Natuzee

    I have MS and this could be very helpful for many people with similar conditions. Most of us with some mobility issue care more about how we move foward and do things now, live our daily life, not how we got to where we are and are looking for interesting tools like this that might be helpful.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  23. carlyjanewg

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    March 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  24. dion

    Years ago Segway had a device was like this but climbed stairs and stayed upright using gyros just like the Segway transporter did. Somehow it never got fully developed for some reason. But this device is better than nothing and gives independence to those who are wheelchair bound. Kudos to this Turkish company.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • d

      It was called the iBot:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBOT

      March 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • G~

      It *did* get fully developed. The insurance companies deemed it a "luxury" and would not cover it.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  25. Pete

    It's nicknamed "the puppet master."

    March 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  26. nowayjose

    Wonderful. Considering what it does, 15K is not an outrageous price at all. It is like buying a compact car. It would be affordable to many families. Kudos to the developers.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • kptnkrunk

      I agree. $15,000 seems pretty reasonable for a device like this. I think many people will still need help from their insurance companies to afford it, however.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  27. bob

    ma & pa...shut up about "our heros" already. i dont want my kids to have heros that sign up for the military because they want to kill people. remember they signed up. how about thinking how it can be used to help all the civilians ur so called heros injured or the wives they beat to near death. oooor how about the innocent victims of drunk driver..so tired of every piece of news turning to the troops.

    March 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Josh

      Calm down Bob, it is something that could help many.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • hahapama

      Bob you are a true moron!

      March 26, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • James

      ma & pa could mean that it can be used for firefighters or police as well. I know one police officer that got paralyzed from the waist down in my city due to a drunk driver ramming into her at 80+ mph in a 40-45 zone. The one that commited the crime is only serving 6 years, at most.

      March 26, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Chris

      Exactly where did anyone refer to the military? Sounds like you have issues. Is it so bad to welcome technology that can help the disabled, regardless of how they got they way? Kudos to the inventor!!!!

      March 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • Spinning Globe Studios

      Bob, seems to me you have a problem with these so called "heros" who are putting their lives on the line every day so you can enjoy the freedom to sit behind your computer screen like a coward and totally pervert their bravery without fear of punishment. With just a paragraph, you have proven to everyone reading your comment that you absolutely lack the balls to ever "sign-up" to fight for something greater than yourself. Congratulations. That being said, this seems like a wonderful invention that gives light to possibilities once thought unattainable for wheel-chair bound individuals, no matter the accident that impaired them.

      March 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
      • Monica

        Spinning Globe Studios
        I agree with you 100% and for BOB, get a life!

        March 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
      • bob

        Yea because I need a life because I have an opinion. Sorry, forgot as long as it's not the norm you can speak your mind. As far as sitting behind my computer screen, why do you assume I don't o everything in my power to do what I can for this country, as far as the "no balls" comment, I actually did try to enlist when I was 18 and was was refused to do medical conditions, the sad thing is after 9/11 I was being recruited and oh wow, suddenly my medical conditions that disqualified me in the first place were no longer an issue. Never did I say I don't support our troops, I do believe however that this country has to do ALOT better job on who they recruit and why. So don't judge me, you don't know me, and talking crap on my opinion just shows you absolutely lack the balls to "man up" and accept others opinions no matter how they differ from you.

        March 26, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
      • Merican

        Bob, they wouldn't let you in without testicles? I'd let you risk your life for me....upstanding individual that you appear!

        March 28, 2012 at 7:52 am |
  28. ma & pa

    This could be a maybe affordable help to many of us including our heros, both sung and unsung, who have paid a terrible price for trying to make our world better for all of us.

    March 26, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • Andy

      Maybe your delusional world

      March 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
      • Sun

        STFU jerkwad.

        March 27, 2012 at 10:29 am |

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