Rehabilitation Technologies 1

Session Organizer: Andrew Hansen, Minneapolis VA Health Care System
Session Co-Organizer: Holly Golecki, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This session will introduce several rehabilitation design projects happening in Minnesota. These include a pediatric standing wheelchair, a novel ankle-feet system for lower-limb prosthesis users, and a transport wheelchair designed to assist caregivers.

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Pediatric Mobile Manual Standing Wheelchair

Patricia McCracken
First Steps Physical Therapy

Linda Krach
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Gillette Children's

Abstract: Children who use wheelchairs for mobility often use standing devices to help maintain bone health, muscle length, reduce spasticity, and for gastrointestinal, skin, and cardiovascular benefits. Although there are many current standing devices on the market, none allow children to independently transition between sitting and standing postures while maintaining the ability to independently maneuver around their environment in their choice of sitting or standing. Barriers exist to the use of a standing device including the need to transfer from a wheelchair with the assistance of another person, scheduling the time needed for the activity, limited space for equipment, and the lack of mobility while standing resulting in isolation from activities with family and peers. This may contribute to use of a standing device being a less attractive activity than remaining in one’s wheelchair and maintaining mobility and control of participation in desired activities.

The initial project team consisted of engineers, a pediatric physical therapist, and an adult Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician. The team previously designed and tested an adult mobile manual standing wheelchair (MMSW) which has been licensed by a manufacturer. A Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine physician was added to the team for this project. The team decided to pursue the concept of a pediatric MMSW as a modification of the adult chair that allows the hand rims to rise with the user, allows mobility during standing via a chain drive system, and uses a low-power system that allows the child to automatically transition between seated and standing posture using an actuator in parallel with gas springs. Computer aided design (CAD) was used to develop a model. Throughout the development process, team members provided information about important features to include, reviewed model progress, and provided feedback. CAD images of the model will be included in this poster presentation. Next steps include gathering feedback from children with disabilities, their families, and a variety of professionals who work with them in a variety of settings.

Patricia McCracken - 2023 Speaker

Patricia McCracken
First Steps Physical Therapy

Bio: Patricia McCracken PT, DPT, MBA is a research PT. She worked with CVRE, Minneapolis VA Health Care System working at the Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering lab. With over 25 years of experience as a PT, she is committed to supporting the development of innovative rehabilitation technologies to enhance the quality of life in patients with impairments across their lifespan. 

Linda Krach -2023 Speaker

Linda Krach
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Gillette Children's

Bio: Dr. Krach obtained her MD degree from Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine) in Philadelphia and completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Minnesota. 

She has board certification in both pediatric and adult rehabilitation medicine. She was the first pediatric rehabilitation physician on the medical staff of Gillette Children’s and has been a member of Gillette’s medical staff for over 40 years. Dr. Krach is an adjunct professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Minnesota. She is an author of 58 peer reviewed articles and more than 20 invited publications including book chapters. She is also a member of the University of Minnesota Center for Orphan Drug Research. 

Throughout her career she has been active in clinical care, teaching, research, and administration. Areas of clinical and research interest include the treatment of spina bifida, cerebral palsy, spasticity, acquired brain injury, and the transition from pediatric to adult services.

A Lightweight, Foldable Motorized Transport Chair to Ease Caregiver Burden

Kimberly Gustafson - 2023 Speaker

Kimberly Gustafson
Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota

Abstract: Many caregivers have difficulty transporting care recipients outside the home for extended distances or across unlevel terrain. The Caregiver-Assist Transport Chair (CATC) is equipped with motorized wheels to intelligently assist with propulsion, deceleration, and turning maneuvers. Unlike typical motorized wheelchairs, the CATC is designed specifically to address the needs of the caregiver, resulting in a lightweight, foldable, and cost-effective design.

Bio: Kimberly Gustafson is a graduate student in the Human/Machine Design Lab at the University of Minnesota working in conjunction with the Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering (MADE) Program at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System to develop a transport chair to alleviate caregiver burden.

Ankle-feet Prostheses for Improving Footwear Options

Eric Nickel - 2023 Speaker

Eric Nickel
Minneapolis VA Health Care System

Abstract: Traditional development practices target production efficiency with a one-size-fits-most approach. The rise of 3D printing is driving novel models of product development including mass-customization and patient-matching. We have leveraged these new models to expand the opportunity for personalization and self-expression through choice of footwear for persons with lower-limb amputations.

Bio: Eric Nickel is a Senior Research Biomedical Engineer in the VA Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering Program at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, focusing on developing novel rehabilitation technologies that serve the needs of Veterans and the broader community.

Session Organizer Bio

Andrew Hansen - 2023 Organizer

Andrew Hansen
Professor, Rehabilitation Science & Biomedical Engineering; Research Biomedical Engineer, Minneapolis VA Health Care System

Bio: Andrew is a founder and the director of the Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering (MADE) Program at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. He is also a Professor of Rehabilitation Science & Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota.