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From Breakfast to the Altar - Possible at REHACARE
At the fair REHACARE, each year new ideas and innovations are presented - that's clear. But some of the novelties are of special interest to the general public such as the wedding dress for wheelchair users or the feeding spoon.
She started with creating underpants - the fashion designer Wilma van Ommeren. That happened ybout 8 years ago and nowadays pyjamay, skirts, capes, and jackets complement her collections. And last but not least, a wedding dress is one piece of her creations. That has not existed yet for women in a wheelchair.
The new wedding gown; © Heiss
Again and again, paraplegic women turned to the Dutch woman. They encouraged her to produce dresses in order to enable disabled women to be a bride as beautiful as any other for the one very important day. And now the designer introduces her wedding gown at REHACARE 2005. It is made out of silk with a four meter long trail that covers the back of the wheelchair and it is split in two - that way woman is not restricted when moving her arms.
The Rheinland-Westfälische Technical College Aachen has technically reached new goals: An electrical wheelchair that can be steered solely through mimics. Raised eyebrows, frowning and a movement of the lids are sufficient to get the wheelchair moving. The wheelchair steering system functions through a webcam that is directed onto the head of the person sitting in the wheelchair. It analyses the face parameters of the face and the data are then translated so that the wheelchair knows in which direction to move. A small screen keeps the wheelchair user up-to-date what is happening.
"Now we need to test the system for another six months in order to make sure that everything functions safely in practice", explains an employee of the business that wants to market the innovation. At the end of next year it should be ready for the market as the employee mentioned.
The "feeding" spoon; © Heiss
One of the greatest enjoyments for human beings - eating - is also considered this year with a special invention. A machine that allows people with limited movements of the arms and hands to eat independently. A small spoon that interlocks with a fork is attached to a robotic arm. This "gripper" takes the food from four small compartments out of a standardised lunch box and leads the food to the mouth of the handicapped person which steers the movements with its chin. That way in future it should be possible to enjoy an independent extensive breakfast as well as a beautiful wedding.