Jan. 24 - The wheelchair-bound are set to receive a boost with new technology that allow them to stand upright. Invented by researchers at Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University,the robotic elevator is seen as a potentially life-changing innovation for the disabled. Tara Cleary reports.
You wouldn't know it by looking at him but, Chen Chien-chia is a paraplegic. He's been wheelchair-bound for eleven years but now he can stand upright like anyone else ... thanks to a robotic device called i-Transport. SOUNDBITE: CHEN CHIEN-CHIA SAYING: "When I sit in a wheelchair to go to places with a higher reception counter, it is inconvenient to speak to people. The advantage of this machine is that I can stand up and directly converse with others, and this is convenient." i-Transport is the brainchild of researchers at Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University. Su Fong-chin, Director of Medical Innovation, says its designed to simulate a human caregiver, allowing paraplegics to stand while simultaneously monitoring their vital signs. SOUNDBITE: DIRECTOR OF MEDICAL DEVICE INNOVATION CENTER AT NATIONAL CHENG KUNG UNIVERSITY, SU FONG-CHIN SAYING: "Our project is integrated with the functions of mobility, lift, transfer and standing and we have also included a physiological monitoring system to perform telemedicine or long-distance care services. We can eventually store the information in the cloud for the patient's family to know that he is safe and comfortable." The upright position not only allows paraplegic patients to perform tasks the able-bodied take for granted, but also helps improve digestion and increases bone density in the lower limbs. After more than six years of research, Su hopes that i-Transport will soon be available to the public. For Chen it has provided a new lease on life, allowing him to stand face to face with others - no matter how high the barrier.