Alma Firm Receives Federal Grant for 'Quad Rider'

by Mark Carter  on Tuesday, Jul. 22, 2014 8:57 am  

InvoTek, a research and development firm from Alma, has received a $175,000 federal grant for development of the "Quad Rider," a gear and braking device that helps people with disabilities safely operate a handcycle.

The Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health will fund the development of the device, which can help people with high-level spinal cord injuries operate a handcycle. 

InvoTek, an Innovate Arkansas client firm, is collaborating with the Lakeshore Foundation of Birmingham, Alabama, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham to develop the Quad Rider. 

"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," said James Rimmer, Lakeshore Foundation Director of Research, in a news release. "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."

Specifically, the Quad Rider makes it easy to shift gears and brake, enabling people with poor grip-control to safely cycle.

"The mechanism does not require strength to brake quickly, which is a big deal for someone who has limited control of his or her hands," said InvoTek president Tom Jakobs. "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."

The Quad Rider will attach onto a standard handcycle. Jakobs said Phase II of development will focus on enhanced automation for people with even more severe injuries.



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