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An upright wheelchair is born in Israel

Inventor and engineer Amit Goffer from Israel has recently announced his plans to launch his innovative upright self stabilising wheelchair at a medical conference in Germany in October.

Amit who previously designed and released a robotic exoskeleton at his previous venture ReWalk Robotics which enabled folk with paralysis below the waist to walk. It has had some remarkable results and transformed the lives of some disabled folk.

Amit has been confined to a wheelchair since an accident in 1997 which left him with limited function in his arms and legs. His idea for an upright wheelchair has been in his mind for a long time but only recently has he had the resource to make it a reality.

Known as UPnRIDE, the wheelchair has no chair as such but will be categorised as such when it passes its two clinical tests to get regulatory approval and ensure health insurance companies can assist customers with the rather hefty price tag.

The new 4 wheel chair uses gyroscope technology similar to that in a Segway to navigate all types of terrain while keeping the user in a stable upright position. Uprigth wheelchairs as such are not an entirely new invention and can provide great assistance to those with serious spinal cord injuries. Its added benefit is that it can also help to stave off other problems that can arise in a normal wheelchair, including cardiovascular and respiratory issues.

Gabi Zeilig is the director of the neurological rehabilitation department at Israel's Sheba Medical Center, he comments "The (UPnRIDE) idea is fascinating," he said. "There are devices today to move from one place to another, but for short distances and never on a sloped ground."

He stated that the prime function of the UPnRIDE is its ability to self stabilise around the user who effectively acts as the centre of gravity for the wheelchair.

Good luck to Amit and lets hope that he is able to get the necessary certification to make the UPnRIDE wheelchair a commercial reality and that is made available to those who could truly benefit from this very unusual wheelchair.

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