Chosen as one of thirteen sites across the country, Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services is now an outlet for one of the newest and most technologically advanced wheelchairs available today. The IBot, a product of Independence Technologies, a division of Johnson & Johnson, uses a series of six gyroscopes, and three redundant computers to allow the user to climb curbs, go up and down stairs, and even balance on two wheels. Approved as a Class III medical device, this wheelchair requires a specific assessment, and a prescription for use. Mike Krivich, of Independence Technologies, states that the technology used in the I-Bot is similar to that of the Segway, the two wheel transportation device seen on the news a couple of years ago. In fact, the inventor of the technology, Dean Kaman, first intended it for individuals with mobility issues, but the testing required by the FDA, and the process of creating a wheelchair to surround it, took time. In the meanwhile, the Segway came to the market.
Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services and Advanced Rehabilitative Technologies was a commitment made by Sister Kenny 10 years ago to bring the best and latest technologies available to the disability community. Tim Bowman, Project Director; “It was our intention to be an incubator; a place where ideas, needs, research and innovation come together.” Since then, Sister Kenny has partnered with the University of Minnesota and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on different projects. To visit the second floor at Sister Kenny is to see the latest forms of technology, and treatment coming together for a wide variety of consumers. From Biofeedback technology, to green screen exercise programs, Sister Kenny is at the leading edge, making rehabilitation services both fun and effective.
While I-Bot is amazing technology, it is not for everyone. A pre-assessment, a doctor’s prescription, and further assessments are needed for someone to be fitted. The most unique and innovative feature is the I-Bot’s ability to balance on two wheels. If one is to lean forward or backward, the gyroscopes inside rapidly adjust the wheels to keep the user upright and safe. If pushed past a certain point, the I-Bot simply lowers itself to all four wheels, quickly and safely. The ability to traverse stairs can be accomplished with only a small amount of force by the user, backing into a stairway and pulling either up or down on the rail. The chair seat adjusts to keep the user upright and balanced. All of these functions and more can be taught and practiced at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services.
In addition to the conventional types of services offered, such as Physical and Occupational Therapy, the technology arm brings new and exciting methods, all designed to make recovery and rehabilitation the best available. As part of the Allina Hospitals and Clinics, Sister Kenny is available to many consumers throughout the state, and beyond. Using webcam and video conferencing, Sister Kenny is working with America Samoa, an island on the Pacific Rim, to bring the latest to the 30,000 people living there. “On an island where there is one physical therapist to serve everyone, all sorts of consumers are seen, requiring a broad spectrum of expertise, that we, with the help of the therapist, are able to provide.” It is collaborations such as this, along with the willingness to share information and ideas with others for the advancement of the disability community that we are fortunate to have Sister Kenny.
Keep an eye on our Upcoming Events section for dates and times of test-drives for the I-Bot.