2014 BMEStart TREAT* prize winner, winning $1,000
The R-ARM team has designed a robotic arm that attaches to the back of a wheelchair. There are approximately 65 million individuals who use wheelchairs worldwide. Almost all are limited in their reach due to the restrictions of sitting in a wheelchair. For the 900,000 individuals in the United States who have additional upper-body musculoskeletal limitations, interacting with the environment surrounding the wheelchair is even more constrained. Individuals with these limitations have identified the need for a motorized reach assistant to permit the user to retrieve objects and increase their independence. This team’s solution, the R-ARM, is a two-joint robotic arm that attaches to the back of a wheelchair. The R-ARM offers a means to grab objects up to 4.5 feet beyond the edge of the wheelchair and return the object back to the user. The power source for the R-ARM is independent of the chair. Other distinguishing features of the R-ARM include a quick attach/disconnect mechanism, a foot pedal to release objects, and safety features. Material costs for the R-ARM are less than $1,000. With a provisional patent filed, the team has freedom to develop the product.
TREAT Center for Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances And Technology
*This year NCIIA is again partnering with TREAT (Center for Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology) to honor excellence in Assistive and Rehabilitation Technologies.
TREAT is a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, collaborative consortium between corporate, educational and non-profit entities providing infrastructure support and expert consultation to researchers and innovators interested in the translation and commercialization of rehabilitation research applications.