Alma-based InvoTek recently received a $175,000 Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will fund the development of technology to enable people with high-level spinal cord injury the opportunity to enjoy the health benefits of handcycling.
The Lakeshore Foundation and University of Alabama at Birmingham are collaborating with InvoTek on this project.
“Lack of access to fitness and recreation equipment is one of the primary barriers to participating in health-enhancing fitness activities for people with spinal cord injuries," James Rimmer, Lakeshore Foundation director of research, said in a statement. "The Quad Rider can open up the possibility of promoting a wonderfully engaging form of physical activity for people with high level tetraplegia and help lower their risk of heart disease and diabetes and improve their mental health status."
The Quad Rider makes it easy to shift gears and brake, enabling people with poor grip-control to safely cycle. According to InvoTek President Tom Jakobs, the mechanism does not require strength to brake quickly, which is important for someone with limited hand control.
“Plus, the rider can change gears by puffing air into a device (through a straw) attached to their helmet, allowing them to keep their hands in position to steer and brake,” Jakobs added.
The Quad Rider will attach onto a standard handcycle. Phase II will focus on enhanced automation for people with even more severe injuries so that they too can exercise.
Founded in 1988, InvoTek specializes in creating and applying technology to the needs of people with severe disabilities. InvoTek is a founding sponsor of Be Extraordinary, a non-profit organization that helps people with severe disabilities who want to accomplish a life goal.