10 Aug 2020

‘Smart walker’ helps prevent falls

More than four million Canadians and Americans use walkers to improve their mobility – but falls while using one cost untold suffering, and more than $330M in healthcare costs per year.

That’s why, when Wagner Souza, a recent Medical Innovation Fellow, was asked, ‘why are you developing a walker when there’s already a well-established industry?’ he responded with a question of his own: ‘Then why do so many people still fall?’.

Souza’s experience as a person with limited mobility, combined with his expertise as a physiotherapist and a neuroscience PhD, fueled his desire to fill the gaps he sees in medical devices.

It has led to developing a ‘smart’ walker, shoe insole and wheelchair mould – all of them equipped with tools based in neuroscience.

“In a clinical setting, you have a lot of ideas to solve problems, but you don’t have the tools and knowledge to translate the solution into reality,” Souza said. “I wanted to learn how to bridge clinical setting to medical device industry.”

That’s when he discovered Western’s Medical Innovation Fellowship Program operated by WORLDiscoveries in partnership with BrainsCAN.

From July 2019 to May 2020, he and his Medical Innovation Fellowship team researched, observed and innovated. They spent months at Parkwood Institute, emergency rooms and operating rooms to determine patient and clinician needs.

What makes these products different from what’s already available is that they were all carefully designed with the same goal – applying neuroscience to smart assistive devices and improving lives.

This article appeared in Western News.

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