It can power over curbs, climb up and down stairs and even shuttle across sand, gravel and grass. It sounds like a child’s robot gizmo, but this new device is far from a toy.
The INDEPENDENCE iBOT 3000 Mobility System functions like a power wheelchair, but through innovative technology, it can also help people with disabilities achieve tasks that once were barriers.
David Gray, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and of occupational therapy, was one of the first people in the country to receive the new device April 29 when he completed training on its use.
“I have been honored to provide guidance in the development of the iBOT Mobility System almost from its inception in 1996,” Gray said. “To be among the first people to own one is not only a personal achievement, but is also a truly exciting opportunity for me to gain greater independence and accessibility in my daily life.”
Gray’s training has been conducted at the Enabling Mobility Center (EMC), a collaborative research project between Paraquad and the Program in Occupational Therapy.
The EMC provides assistive technology resources and demonstrations for people with mobility impairments, their families and health-care providers.
It is among the first in the United States to offer and train people to use the iBOT Mobility System.
In addition to traversing various terrains, the device can elevate the user to eye level — a feature that Gray is especially excited about.
“I was able to use the device in one of my lectures this week for the first time. While the students were on break, I went into the balance function and elevated myself up,” he said. “When the students returned, there were a bunch of wide eyes.”
In the balance function, the front wheels rotate on top of the back wheels while the user remains seated at a higher level.
Gray said that over the years he’s had to decline dinner invitations now and then when a friend’s home was difficult to access. “Let’s just say I’ll be cashing in on some rain checks. I’m back!” he said.