The young man in this video looks like he's riding a Segway. But Yusuf Akturkoglu was paralized after falling from a horse five years ago, and he's being mobilized by an amazing device invented by Turkish scientists. It's going to change lives.
It's called the Tek Robotic Mobilization Device, and it not only allows people who can't walk get around more independently than any device has before, but it also helps them stand up on their own, which is crucial for maintaining basic health functions in people who have spinal cord injuries.
Instead of entering from the front like a normal wheelchair, people using the Tek RMD enter from the back of the device. That way they don't have to hoist themselves with a momentum that can be dangerous and is next to impossible to do alone. By attaching a thick padded strap around the hips, Yusuf maneuvers himself into the Tek RMD on his own. The device uses a suspension system that balances the weight so he can stand up with just a gentle pull. Standing for an hour or more every day is important for people who have lost movement in their legs; without the weight-bearing effect of standing, they can develop cardiovascular problems, brittle bones, pressure sores not to mention the psychological importance of eye-to-eye interpersonal contact.
In the video, Yusuf calls the device to his bedside with a remote-control, gets himself out of bed, goes grocery shopping, maneuvers around a bookstore, and even does some things in the bathroom that we thankfully don't observe to completion. But these these abilities that most of us take for granted every day are key to the emotional well-being of paraplegic people. The ability to squat down and easily come back to standing is key. And while standing, Yusef's hands are free to carry groceries or do whatever else he might need them to. Before trying out the Tek RMD, Yusuf, who was a student before his injury, rarely left his home where he lives with his parents.
The makers of Tek RMD says it's the most compact device of its kind, which allows Yusuf to navigate crowded grocery aisles, libraries, and who knows, Coachella, maybe? All without knocking into the people and things around him. Users still need ramps in place of stairs, but the device eliminates the need for special bathroom stalls and other facilities that allow space for bulky wheelchairs.
The Tek RMD comes in five sizes.
and is still undergoing clinical trials. Here's hoping it's on the market stat. UPDATE: It will be on the market in Turkey this week, and the company is looking for outlets in Europe and the United States, where it will cost about $15,000. Here's hoping insurance will cover it. [Tek RMD and Reuters]