Thursday, May 23, 2024

Congratulations to Bob Radocy, who competed in the World’s 1st Cybathon!

Congratulations to Bob Radocy, who competed in the 1st Cybathlon with his
Bowden Cable Controlled Arm Prosthesis in Kloten, Switzerland!

World’s First “Cybathlon” Pits High-Tech Prosthetics against One Another
From robotic arms to brain–computer interfaces, the unique event featured
some of today’s most cutting-edge assistive devices

By Catherine Caruso on October 12, 2016
Scientific American Magazine

Cybathlon participant Bob Radocy uses the Grip 5 Prehensor his team
developed to complete the second of six tasks in the arm prosthesis competition.

Photo Credit: Nicola Pitaro
(To view the photo of Bob Radocy go to the Scientific American web site
source link at the end of the article.)
Bob Radocy finished screwing a light bulb into a lamp perched on the desk
… and the crowd went wild. Radocy, who lost his arm in a car accident
several decades ago, had just used a prosthetic device to complete a task at
the inaugural Cybathlon, held last weekend at the SWISS Arena in Kloten,
The event involved more than 60 teams formed by research institutions and
companies competing in six assistive technology categories: brain-computer
interface (a device that connects the brain to a computer), functional
electrical stimulation bike (a bicycle powered by electrical stimulation of the
muscles), arm prosthesis, leg prosthesis, exoskeleton (a powered robotic
suit) and wheelchair. Disabled individuals, or “pilots,” from the
different teams faced off on courses designed to test how the assistive devices
perform on everyday tasks.
The Cybathlon was the brainchild of Robert Riener, a professor who studies
sensory-motor systems and rehabilitation engineering at ETH Zurich.
Riener initially conceived of it as an athletic competition with robotic
devices. “But then I talked more and more to people with disabilities,” Riener
recalls, “and I realized that there’s a big challenge for them in daily
In the prosthetic arm event, Radocy and his competitors raced against the
clock and each other to complete a series of six tasks ranging from picking
up differently shaped objects on a table, to preparing breakfast
(including cutting a loaf of bread and using a can opener), to hanging clothes using
hangers and clothespins. Radocy says the most challenging task for him
involved grasping a handle attached to a metal ring and guiding the ring
along an electrified pipe bent to resemble a roller coaster. If the ring
touched the pipe, the handle lit up—much like in the board game Operation.
“There’s never been a competition like this in history,” Radocy says. “
This is the first time these technologies have ever been put on display, one
against the other, in the same kind of rigorously defined course.” Judges
followed the participants throughout the events and assigned points based
on how well they performed.
Radocy is not new to the world of assistive technology. In 1979, a few
years after his injury, he founded TRS Prosthetics, a Boulder, Colorado-based
company that specializes in high performance, body-powered devices.
“We’re trying to duplicate what the hand does, but not how the hand does
it,” Radocy explains. When you “step outside the boundaries of the
anatomical hand,” he adds, “it really opens up your capabilities of what you can
achieve functionally.”
Radocy teamed up with graduate students at Delft University of Technology
in the Netherlands to form the DIPO Power Team and develop a device called
the “GRIP 5 Prehensor,” which became commercially available in January.
Unlike many of the lower-arm prostheses at the Cybathlon, the Prehensor does
not resemble a complete human hand, nor does it rely on an external power
source. Instead, it is designed to emulate a human index and middle finger
in opposition to a thumb. The device is body-powered, and works similarly to
a hand brake on a bicycle; movements of the arm and torso produce power
that is transferred along an artificial external tendon to the device. The
gripping strength of the Prehensor is directly proportional to the power of
the movement that produced it, which gives the user precise control.
Assisted by the device, Radocy breezed through the course in the
preliminaries and the finals, earning two perfect scores to win gold for his team.
As for Riener, the biggest goal of the Cybathlon was bringing together
people from different countries and backgrounds, with and without disabilities.
As Radocy stood atop the podium with team leader Monica Moreo, his
Prehensor and her hand clasped and raised before the cheering crowd, it is clear
Riener was successful.


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