What we do
Demonstration of an OpenCare model of a ‘makerspace’, We propose a laboratory where people living with motor impairment due to e.g. multiple sclerosis (MS), stroke or spinal cord injury (SCI) can meet and collaborate with other people. There will be mentors (physiotherapists, engineers and designers etc.) and together we will create solutions to personal needs in form of assistive devices. A cooperative model where citizens with various skills can work together on realizing devices for use in everyday life, that will improve or maintain individual functional capabilities. This model will explore ways to transfer research results directly to users (target participants). New and existing ideas will be challenged and transformed into methods and assistive technology for activities of daily living. Initial focus will be to demonstrate how the challenges of mobility can be resolved by helping people’s creativity in a social environment. One challenges that people often meet is the need for adaptation of tools to be able to perform day-to-day tasks as .abilities change, In the WeHandU laboratory people will be able (and helped) to implement such changes.
More participants = more results
The basis of WeHandU is to be volitional participation of people with skills in various aspects of assistive technology. Solutions will vary from realizing simple mechanical aids to involvement of expert researchers. The new infrastructures of makerspaces (also known as fablabs or hackerspaces), allowing the do-it-yourself construction of objects, lend itself as a host for the WeHandU initiative. Here sophisticated devices can be prototyped using advanced machining processes (e.g. 3D printing). A lot of individuals create a personal DIY solutions. Those not marketed or provided by the health service can be manufactured in the WeHandU framework. Likewise subsequent modifications can be easily be implemented as new needs arise. People challenged by MS, stroke and SCI will find help in peers, designers, engineers networking with clinicians as well as people with ‘soft’ skills in the socializing context of a makerspace. One of the concrete challenges to resolve is addressing the problem of dropped foot . With a vast practical experience we can guide people to select, try or even construct their foot drop correcting stimulator. A device that, despite solid proof of efficiency in scientific literature, has not been adopted by the healthcare systems. Another of the most important problems regards the vanishing hand function. Here a recently developed technology comes in. It’s a open source (meaning that all details of how to replicate are publically available) device for strengthening the hand, using FES (mecfes.wikispaces.com). It has been tested clinically for improving hand function in SCI, but there is no contraindications for applying it to people living with MS. Most important of all, this initiative in synergy with OpenCare will challenge the existing healthcare providers to adopt the model and provide a more user centered approach.
The WeHandU idea is mainly concerned about preserving autonomy by assistive technology for the hand function and walking using state of the art technological inventions combined with simple do-it-yourself manufacturing techniques in a socially engaging environment. Use of nowadays rapid-prototyping technologies(es. 3d printing), allows to bring creative people together for an effective low-cost collaboration process which brings real and efficient industrial solutions in relatively short time.