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Robotics Breaks Mobility Grounds

When Mike Bankowski, the founder and president of Prosperous Home Health, couldn’t locate a regular caregiver for a client with ALS in a rural location near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, he filled in. Even though the client had an eye-gaze communication device and a Robotics feeding system, he still needed assistance with sit-to-stand movements and overall mobility. Bankowski used a gait belt and walker to provide physical assistance where he could, but he and his patient wondered whether there was a better method.

Bankowski discovered there was no Robotics device that suited the mobility needs of this patient—or others he had encountered—after searching the internet. As a result, he resolved to create one. Rose, a walker with two Robotics arms that assists users with sit-to-stand and gait adjustments, is the outcome. “I had a number of restless nights thinking about this robot,” Bankowski admitted. “Someone has to have devised this since it’s a no-brainer [method] of providing physical aid.”

He recruited a patent attorney to ensure that his idea was unique, and once that was confirmed, he moved on to prototyping. Rose can most effectively assist with fall and injury prevention. Medicare spends $30 billion on fall-related injuries each year in the United States.

The National Institute on Aging has designated innovative assistive devices as a top priority for financing and research. Bankowski intends to add further capabilities to Rose, such as medication reminders and distribution, as well as the ability to summon Rose from across the room, even if the robot is still in the prototype stage.

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