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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a walker braking system that can prevent slips, slides, and falls for the elderly, individuals with mobility, balance disabilities, and/or grasping disabilities. A team of graduate students from the Department of Biomedical Engineering and undergraduate seniors from several departments in the College of Engineering have worked with David Lipson, Cornell professor of engineering, as well as with Dr. Eli Einbinder to design an electronic braking system for walkers, with buttons replacing bicycle-style squeeze brakes. The "Smart Walker" relies on handgrip sensors. The walker starts in the braked position, and low-strength users need only touch a button to electronically disengage the brake and begin moving. Once a user removes hands from the handlebar, the walker automatically resets to the braked position. The added stability and ease of operation for users with reduced hand strength promises to dramatically reduce accidental falls—a significant source of injury among the elderly with limited mobility. It can further reduce injury among the elderly by encouraging a more active lifestyle. The braking system the team devised has a single highly sensitive button. The button runs to a microprocessor, which sends information to a linear actuator that in turn pulls on a mechanical brake to make the wheels come to a complete stop. This system allows users with low strength or impairment in their hands to safely brake the walker. TITLE: Newly patented electronic braking prevents slips on walkers. WEBSITE: Chronicle Online. REF: http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/June10/SmartWalkers.html.
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