Evaluating the potential cardiovascular benefits of using the openPAW in persons with spinal cord injury.

In the spinal cord injured population, inactivity is wide-spread, and most causes of death in those with spinal cord injury can be improved by increasing physical activity.  Current electric wheel-chairs exacerbate inactivity in this population by performing all the work required for transportation. The new openPAW device uses bio and environmental feedback (ie. current arm strength, weight, slope) from the wheelchair to alter how much power is mechanically provided to the wheels on each arm crank. This system, on a crank-by-crank basis, supplements the force provided by the individual to attain a given programmable speed. The openPAW thereby allows people who could generate some force to wheel for transportation instead of relying completely on mechanical force. This system is designed to allow and encourage physical activity in those who can generate some or any arm force. Our research proposes to investigate how an innovative wheel-chair device influences the health of those with spinal cord injury. We plan to recruit 40 individuals with SCI to both measure how their musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health changes and also add valuable bio feedback to the device database allowing for more sophisticated crank by crank modulations to given situations. Through our lab’s expertise in spinal cord injury and cardiovascular/musculoskeletal physiology as well as SOC robotics innovative design, our partnership promises to succeed in the above goals.

Aaron Philips
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Darren Warburton
British Columbia