Aerobic exercise for the wheelchair-bound

Sep 10, 2008
Students from the University of Texas partnered with alumnus to create an arcade experience for the wheelchair bound. Credit: Stephanie Peco

University of Texas at Austin alumnus, Chris Stanford (MSEE '91), and Electrical & Computer Engineering undergraduates are working on making exercise fun for wheelchair users. For the last year, Stanford has been partnering with engineering seniors to test his idea for a virtual reality treadmill for the disabled.

"Not many people realize," says Stanford who has been confined to a wheelchair since 1988, "the special health risks faced by wheelchair users. Everything is more difficult, including eating right and getting enough exercise. Because of this, the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease is several times the rate of the general population."

Stanford's solution, called TrekEase, approximates an arcade driving game. Users back a manual wheelchair into a frame, engage the flywheel for resistance, and start the driving software.

"When Chris approached me last year about using [TrekEase] as one of our senior design projects," says UT-ECE professor Jon Valvano "I was enthusiastic. It's an interesting engineering challenge. He came in with a mechanical system that had already been vetted for safety. The students added software and sensors that make the experience interactive."

Users can control speed and direction. A new group of students is continuing the project this semester. They plan to enhance the existing design so the system detects tilt making flight simulation possible and to work on the packaging so it will be affordable and easily reproducible.

"There is no way I could've done this by myself. I don't have the skill set," says Stanford." The students are amazing. They step up to every challenge."

Source: University of Texas at Austin

Explore further: PsiKick's batteryless sensors poised for coming 'Internet of things'

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Tailored approach key to cookstove uptake

Worldwide, programs aiming to give safe, efficient cooking stoves to people in developing countries haven't had complete success—and local research has looked into why.

A sharp eye on Southern binary stars

Unlike our sun, with its retinue of orbiting planets, many stars in the sky orbit around a second star. These binary stars, with orbital periods ranging from days to centuries, have long been the primary ...