The BCIT Rehabilitation Engineering Design Lab (REDLab) designed a prototype of a revolutionary exercise machine for people with disabilities. This exercise machine, AAPLEwalk™, is the first of its kind in the world and is now ready for user testing.
Many of the exercise machines designed for use by people with mobility impairments require the user to be in a seated position and replicate the actions used in wheelchair wheeling. Use of these machines may increase the risk of chronic arm issues that are common with wheelchair users. The cardio-vascular benefits of using these devices are limited as the user is generally sitting and only engaging the arms. To address these limitations, Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, BCIT Researcher and Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation Engineering Design, and his team developed AAPLEwalk™ to allow users with mobility impairment to exercise in a way that does not mimic the actions of wheelchair wheeling, allows weight bearing, and at the same time challenges the heart better than simple arm-only movements.
The AAPLEwalk™ was developed based on clinical needs and extensive research. It combines the benefits of Active-Arm Passive-Leg Exercise (AAPLE), cardio-respiratory training, and standing loco-motor therapy in a single device.
This device raises a user from sitting to a fully supported standing position on an elliptical-type exercise machine. “AAPLEwalk™” consists of synchronized arm-driven motion and walking-like leg patterns at variable intensities appropriate for cardiovascular exercise.
“The emotional benefit of being able to stand up tall, to go for a walk, and to work out simultaneously is impressive,” said a Focus Group Participant.
A step closer from research towards commercialization
The AAPLEwalk™ has already completed the first stage of testing. BCIT researchers collaborated with UBC Kinesiology, the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), and the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, to conduct an evaluation of the AAPLEwalk™. This assessed the machine’s comfort, fit, function, and impact of the exercise on able-bodied users.
The next stage of testing will involve users with mobility impairments and clinicians. The potential end-users and clinicians will be consulted on their perceptions of the prototype. Cardio-respiratory function, muscle engagement, and bio-mechanics will also be evaluated. Together, this will help the research team better understand the benefits and limitations of the design before additional improvements are made.
“Moving towards user testing involving people with mobility impairments is an exciting next step as we move our research towards commercialization,” says Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, BCIT Researcher and Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation Engineering Design. “Getting a new technology to market that makes an impact on people’s lives is the goal of our lab.”
About the BCIT REDLab
Dr. Jaimie Borisoff is one of the three BCIT Canada Research Chairs. Dr. Borisoff’s work along with his team members MAKE+ Project Lead Johanne Mattie, MAKE+ Research Analyst Rory Dougall and MAKE+ Trades Researcher Ernie Janzen focus on developing novel solutions to improve people’s quality of life. Their work uses rehabilitation engineering design to expand the activities of daily living and community participation for people with disabilities. Rehabilitation engineering design looks at how people behave in real life and based on observations of barriers or gaps in quality of life, designs technology to bridge those gaps.
Chris West (UBC ICORD), Tania Lam (ICORD, UBC Kinesiology)
Note to media: For a show-and-tell of the AAPLEwalk™ prototype exercise machine with Dr. Jaimie Borisoff, BCIT Researcher and Canada Research Chair in Rehabilitation Engineering Design, please contact Amy Chen, 778-384-7245.