Apple is suddenly really interested in health tech
And the fitness-tracking wristband seems to be inspiring how the company is thinking about its own wearable device: it's begun hiring several experts in health tech.
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Apple is suddenly really interested in health tech
Thibaud Guymard's insight:
Will Apple become a big player in the ehealth field? Some interesting signs so far. To be followed!
This year IBM dedicated its Five in Five series (an annual list of five technologies that are likely to advance dramatically) solely to sensors.
Digital sensors of the touch, sight,hearing, taste and smell kind along with their potential are all profiled by IBM Sensor technology is going through a renaissance as companies develop smart and innovative new ways to track data using them.
Sensor innovation is in-part driving the Digital Health Revolution as digital health companies find ingenius ways to integrate them in to apps, devices and other peripherals. The smartphone will play an increasing important role in all of this as they go from having six built-in sensors currently to having sixteen in the next five years.
If these predictions are correct then the next five years will be half-a-decade of sensor proliferation meaning the Digital Health Ecosystem will grow exponentially. In the meantime though there are already a plethora of digital health sensors in use or in the pipeline that are helping people improve and, in some instances, save lives.
Via Andrew Spong
The Health Resources and Services Administration at HHS is working on a new texting initiative, based on the successful public health texting initiative Text4Baby, called TXT4Tots. The department is soliciting via the Federal Registryfor ways to distribute their library of text messages designed to promote wellness, nutrition and exercise for parents of children under five.
But the government isn’t the only one looking for ways to leverage digital health solutions to promote kids’ health and wellness.
Even as the players solidify in the burgeoning adult health tracking space, a growing number of companies is looking to apply digital health and self-tracking lessons to the problem of childhood obesity, and the challenge of getting kids to be more active. First Lady Michelle Obama’s high-profile Let’s Move initiative even acknowledges the role digital health can play in getting kids active: the initiative included an Apps for Healthy Kids contest on challenge.gov. The winner was Smash Your Food, from Food N’ Me, a game that builds kids’ awareness of the fat, sugar and oil content of different foods by letting them guess those numbers and then check their guess through a simulation of smashing the food in a compressor. A similar app from Medtronic uses an animal avatar called Lenny the Lion to teach kids with diabetes about carb counting...
It seems that the stars are aligned. These glimmers of facts, figures, innovation and needs are converging on the year 2013. And the result promises to be an inflection point for digital health. The curve of innovation will shift and place us all on a new course for managing disease and wellness.
The Touch Points of Change…
#1. Explosive new technology
Think about the smart phone and how far its come in just a few short years. Today, technology is the new intellectual playground that connects vision with application. The “computer” is yesterday’s news and now the advancement of innovation across a wide variety of areas (gaming, manufacturing, communications, etc.) is being applied to health with striking speed and expertise. And the players are both big, well-funded companies as well as smart, adroit and nimble start ups.
#2. The pressing need to advance healthcare and the Affordable Care Act
There’s almost no scientific, political or sociological discussion that doesn’t find its way to health and healthcare. The costs, access and resources are a key driver to seeking solutions to the health dilemma that exists right now and is projected to only get worse. Technology has always been part of the answer in other areas. Today, innovation and technology are poised to advance care in new directions that can drive new efficiencies and lead a course to self-care and wellness.
#3. The caldron of connectivity
Ideas are promiscuous. The profound interconnectedness of thinkers and ideas create a “neural-network” that powers our imaginations. And while exclusivity and the reality of business may obstruct this free-form engagement, the cross-pollination still flourishes. Unlike other social and technological movement of the past, our path and mechanism of innovation is driven by a new nature of collaboration, still driven by a competitive spark!
Another important driver to the digital health revolution is the increasing level of patient / caregiver connectivity. The role of tele-medicine will foster new connections for care and become an essential proving ground for new “tricorder-type” technology that makes the interaction more clinically robust.
#4. The power of cool
Change is a funny thing. And for many people, that advancement of technology often diffuses slowly into a system. The advantage of the digital health movement is that carries “the stamp of cool” and takes clinical / social utility to a place beyond the practical–the emotional. It’s not about taking a pill, but living the life of innovation that is validated by science and medicine.
#5. The empowerment of the “quantified self” in health
Our lives are quantified in many ways. From banking to shopping habits, we exist as a complex set of numbers and actions. Ask American Express or Amazon. Their ability to quantify our lives provides a powerful engine of commerce and engagement. The same will come to be with our health and wellness. Today, tools to measure key clinical parameters (serum glucose, blood oxygen, etc.) will combine with mainstream devices used by joggers and athletes. The result will become “full circle” data that will proactively inform us of issues and concerns.
It’s really nothing new at all. Think about your check engine light or tire pressure indicator in your car. Simple diagnostic tools that allow you to get ahead of an automotive problem. The same will apply to health as sensors and devices track, analyses and alert us to our own physiology. From tracking your body temperature to monitoring the effectiveness of an antibiotic to proactively tracking blood pressure, you will know more about yourself than ever before. And all this data and knowledge will become less of burden and more of reassurance that all systems are go!
#6. Pharma’s search for new meaning
Unless you’re swallowing a micro-camera that visualizes your colon, the notion of a traditional pill is changing. And the pharmaceutical industry knows it. The evolution of pharmaceutical science will move therapy to include preventative care, gene therapy and other innovations. The pill, as it conventionally exists today, will have a role, but innovation (and digital health) will make conventional therapies a bit harder to swallow.
#7. Big Data and the electronic medical record
New technology and the vast amounts of generated data come a rich source of information. Research protocols, family history, medical records and large-scale epidemiological studies are a significant aspect of digital health. These data may become the single biggest aspect of this new area.
One look at the market potential and another look at the multiple and varied companies entering this area and the conclusion is clear. Money is a key driver to innovation. The increasing role of venture capitol in digital health sends a clarion call of validation that this initiative is here to stay. There’s also a $10 million prize that’s attached to bring the digital health to life. The the Tricorder X Prize and $10 million prize also add to the rewards.
#9. The voices of brilliance
Science, medicine, genenomics, electronics, analytics, etc. The list of contributors to digital health is vast and smart as heck. And the very nature of the mixed and varied voices coming together will result in a “critical mass” of brilliance rarely seen in the conventional business model.
Healthcare organizations are rapidly trying to reinvent themselves in light of the new rules of the game. One could argue it officially started October 1st of this year with Medicare’s readmission penalties. People are calling this the “no outcome, no income” era. While it may look the same from the outside, I can’t think of a bigger change facing an industry. Almost overnight, what a healthcare provider was previously rewarded for (e.g., ordering tests, hospitalizations, etc.) they will now get penalized either directly or indirectly.
Microsoft’s Achilles Heel in online services was that it’s historic success was putting laser focus on an established competitor. That’s fine when there is a WordPerfect, Lotus or Mac who has already developed a market.
Interestingly, there was a short period of time where MSN’s advertising business was off the radar of Microsoft’s senior executives (they were focused on MSN as an ISP trying to build an “AOL Killer”) and thus was unshackled. During that time, MSN’s ad business became a billion dollar, profitable enterprise. Shortly after abandoning the ISP business, MSN’s fate was sealed when it was infused with former Windows and Office leaders. Those two businesses, as two of the most successful franchises in the history of business, have continued to fund Microsoft’s online services losses. However, bringing in Windows and Office leaders shackled MSN with thinking that these businesses were applicable to MSN’s business. Many of MSN’s decisions were put through the lens of Windows/Office. It became a running joke about how many times one would hear “this is just like Windows/Office” come from the Windows/Office alums. Actually, what it takes to succeed in Internet services has almost nothing to do with Windows/Office. If it did, you’d see a bunch of Windows/Office alums leading Google, Facebook and Twitter...
It turns out that the way you use your phone is a huge window into how you’re feeling--emotionally and physically. Ginger.io is using that data to help people track their moods, and help doctors track the health of their patients.
Cell phone usage patterns say a lot about how you’re feeling. Just ask Anmol Madan, a former MIT Media Lab student who collected 320,000 hours of data from cell phones for his senior thesis and discovered that certain patterns predict the beginning of issues like anxiety and the flu. If you’re depressed, diabetic, or have any sort of chronic illness, cell phone habits can be especially useful; a lack of activity signals to caregivers and doctors that something is up.
Ginger.io, a startup founded by Madan and MIT alum Karan Singh that we first covered after it won the Sanofi-aventis Data Design Diabetes challenge last year, is leveraging smartphone data to help people with a variety of ailments--including diabetes and heart disease--better manage their moods. And this week, it picked up $6.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Khosla Ventures.
The Ginger.io app runs silently in the background of participants’ smartphones, collecting text message habits, call frequency, and location. All that data is analyzed and sent back to both patients via the app and doctors and researchers via an online dashboard. If you suddenly stop calling your friends, or don’t go to work for a few days, that could be a sign to your doctors that they need to check in on you more aggressively.
Doctors also have the option of sending out simple surveys--i.e. how did you sleep last night on a scale of 1 to 10?--using the app daily, weekly, or using any other time interval. (Privacy advocates can rest easy, the app doesn’t track who is being called or texted, just that the calls and texts are taking place. It doesn’t track exact location, either, but it can guess whether a place is work or home based on the time of day and length of stay.)
During a visit to Ginger.io’s San Francisco office, user experience lead Sabih Mir walked me through the participant and caregiver views of the platform. On the caregiver side, "we wanted to try to keep it organized around patient activity and getting a general understanding of overall statistics," he explains. "It could be researchers or doctors managing a population of patients." That means it needs to be easy for caregivers to quickly scan through statistics...
This is the first part in a two part series of the SEO Health Check. The SEO Health Check surfaces data that give you meaningful insights into your site’s progress in SEO.
The metrics that a large number of businesses track related to search engine optimization (SEO) are, frequently, the wrong ones. If your SEO team tracks metrics that skew too macro, or too micro, you can end up with a skewed view of your progress in organic search:
The 10,000 Foot View
If your metrics are too high-level, the numbers can mask both problems and opportunity. A good example is looking only at the total number of visits that your site gets on a monthly basis from organic search. You may be satisfied if your numbers are stable year-over-year, but what if 90% of your traffic comes from 5 terms, and the only page that ranks is your home page? That’s a problem.
The 10 Foot View
Many marketers obsess over the rankings of a handful of keywords—sometimes called “vanity rankings”. Often, these are keywords that drive large volumes of search traffic, or keywords that an executive has decided are strategically important for the business to have visibility for. While tracking a handful of keyword rankings is fine, you need a broader focus to ensure that your site is performing well in the long tail of search, where 70 percent of total search volume is.
SEO is simple. But it’s simple the way baseball is simple. The old saying “throw the ball, hit the ball, catch the ball” comes to mind. Simple, right? There’s always complexity lurking below the surface, but just like in baseball, your SEO team needs to have a quick set of metrics they can refer to that give you meaningful information about how well you’re performing. I call these metrics the SEO Health Check.
The SEO Health Check
The metrics tracked here are designed to give you a quick, directionally accurate view of how well your site is doing in organic search. It tracks indexation, landing pages, keywords and traffic, (covered in my previous post).
Let’s take a look at how to track each of these areas, and then dive into how to interpret the data:
URLs and Indexed Pages
First, you need to know how big your site actually is. Usually, this will require feedback from your Engineering or Product teams. You need to determine the number of valid content URLs that your site is capable of generating. Relying on a “guesstimate” is not sufficient here...
Wearable computing devices are projected to explode in popularity over the next year and with a wave of new gadgets set to hit the consumer market, could soon become the norm for most people within five years. ABI Research forecasts the wearable computing device market will grow to 485 million annual device shipments by 2018.
Currently, sports and activity trackers account for the largest chunk of wearable technologies shipped today. Smart activity trackers are widely available, and the device’s trendy and stylish appearance makes them very popular with a broad range of customers. It is estimated 61% of the wearable technologies market is attributed to sport/activity trackers in 2013.
Via Olivier Janin
Crowdfunding platforms can be the last refuge of a desperate entrepreneur or the go-to market strategy for an appealing consumer product. When a product does well, it does really well, smashing records and even outstripping its own ability to deliver on the goods. When it does badly, well, it often fades away, or at least the company realizes that D2C might not be their best channel.
It’s no surprise that this high-risk high-reward platform is attractive to mobile health innovators, and with Kickstarter strictly barring health-related products, most seem to end up on Indiegogo — besides the Misfit Shine activity tracker, we’ve written about Lumoback, Sqord, the uBox, and a host of other crowdfunded projects on that platform. Here’s five new mobile health products on Indiegogo right now, from the nearly funded to the barely off the ground:
IBM’s Watson, the Jeopardy!-playing supercomputer that scored one for Team Robot Overlord two years ago, just put out its shingle as a doctor or, more specifically, as a combination lung cancer specialist and expert in the arcane branch of health insurance known as utilization management. Thanks to a business partnership among IBM, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and WellPoint, health care providers will now be tap Watson’s expertise in deciding how to treat patients.
Pricing was not disclosed, but hospitals and health care networks who sign up will be able to buy or rent Watson’s advice from the cloud or their own server. Over the past two years, IBM’s researchers have shrunk Watson from the size of a master bedroom to a pizza-box-sized server that can fit in any data center. And they improved its processing speed by 240%. Now what was once was a fun computer-science experiment in natural language processing is becoming a real business for IBM and Wellpoint, which is the exclusive reseller of the technology for now. Initial customers include WestMed Practice Partners and the Maine Center for Cancer Medicine & Blood Disorders.
Even before the Jeopardy! success, IBM began to hatch bigger plans for Watson and there are few areas more in need of supercharged decision-support than health care. Doctors and nurses are drowning in information with new research, genetic data, treatments and procedures popping up daily. They often don’t know what to do, and are guessing as well as they can. WellPoint’s chief medical officer Samuel Nussbaum said at the press event today that health care pros make accurate treatment decisions only 50% of the time (a shocker to me). Watson, once it is trained in a medical specialty, can make accurate decisions 90% of the time. Patients, of course, need it to be 100%, but extending that kind of improved accuracy (and standardization) to doctors anywhere via the cloud, right at the point of care, is a powerful tool for improving care and lowering everyone’s costs, no matter how much they charge for Watson’ s use. Chris Coburn, the Cleveland Clinic’s executive director for innovations, said at the event that he fully expects Watson to be widely deployed wherever the Clinic does business by 2020...
From a starter map of our body’s microbes, to mobile apps that monitor critical health measures, 2012 was a banner year for innovation in health and medicine — even if some breakthroughs and events revealed how far we have to go.
We asked our community on Facebook and Twitter for nominations on the top game-changers last year. Here are a few...
As technology disrupts established healthcare systems and the traditional patient-provider dynamic, frog introduces a prototype Connected Care Solution (CCS) that seamlessly connects doctors and patients and supportive communities. Based on a new patient-centered healthcare paradigm, CCS fosters a collaborative relationship between the patient, providers, and a social network to improve health outcomes and help achieve lifestyle goals. With a deep knowledge and expertise in the healthcare sector, frog designers, technologists, and strategists are exploring innovative and systemic solutions for the future of healthcare—today.
Your blood pressure is spiking and you don’t know why or what to do. You forgot to take your meds. A new diet to lower cholesterol isn’t working. When healthcare issues like these arise we’re often on our own when out of a doctor’s care. But what if we, as patients, were actually managing our healthcare? What if we had the power to connect the dots between medical providers and a caring social network?
CCS puts the patient first. With its end-to-end architecture, CCS enables the patient to manage a Cloud-based Personal Area Network of healthcare devices and exchange data and messages with medical practitioners while also sharing information about activities and achievements on social networks.
“CCS puts the patient at the center of holistically managing their healthcare situation,” says Thomas Sutton, executive creative director at frog’s Milan studio.
An urgent need for innovation
Reforming healthcare is an urgent yet complex challenge. Faced with growing and aging populations and progress in medicine and healthcare technology, politicians and policymakers—along with healthcare professionals and patient advocacy organizations—are exploring ways to maximize healthcare delivery, improve outcomes, and lower costs.
For the most part, though, healthcare systems are mostly structured around an outdated model of hospital and primary care delivery. Got the flu? Go to the doctor. If it’s an acute illness or an emergency, go to the hospital. Yet these models overlook long-term chronic disease management, self-determined behavioral change and the need for better and more frequent communications between the patient and healthcare providers.
In that sense, CCS’s core concept is inherently different from established practices. “It puts the focus on what you as a patient can do,” says Matteo Penzo, technology director at frog.
Portable and wearable measuring devices, and an array of smartphone embedded sensors—such as accelerometers and GPS—help Charles monitor and record data on his blood pressure, glucose, and electrocardiograph. Information is gathered and displayed in real time, enabling the patient—and the caregiver, via an iPad optimized web application—to review past data points and progress toward a nutrition, exercise or activity goal.
The patient is never out of reach or sight: Dr. Rossi can check up on Charles anytime—and without an appointment—to detect the onset of a problem or the deterioration of a condition. The application recognizes correlations and trends, highlighting outliers so they are instantly recognizable to the medical professional.
Meet Charles Green
To find out how it works, let’s check in with Charles Green, a 48-year-old who just visited his physician, Dr. Sara Rossi. She diagnoses hypertension and mild chest discomfort, and prescribes Lipitor and aspirin cardio, as well as an exercise regime. At this point a patient like Charles would be solely responsible for his healthcare.
But Dr. Rossi gives Charles a printout of his care plan with a QR code to download the CCS app to his smartphone. What he will see is an app with a calming visual design that suggests a continuation of his visit to the doctor’s office. Flashy tech touches are played down in favor of a reassuring approach. “We wanted to avoid any kind of visual fireworks and keep the design very low key,” Sutton explains.
The value of data
To be effective, the data collected by CCS must be transformed into actionable information. CCS’s connectivity allows the information gathered from the patient to be part of a larger conversation between the patient and the doctor as well as the patient and loved to impact and change the routines of daily life.
If Charles forgets to check in or take a medication, he will be reminded to do so. He can set progressive targets for physical activity.
Helping out is a special feature on CCS called Virtual Coach that interprets data and provides in-context solutions. Is your blood pressure too high compared to average readings? The Virtual Coach will suggest ways to lower the rate, like cutting down on coffee or listening to soothing music that will be automatically played, thanks to the auto-relaxation feature. Real time and historical data is displayed on a LifeLog, which unfolds as a calendar-like story enabling patients to review past actions and progress toward goals, and see subtle trends in their overall health. Healthcare professionals can access the same data to monitor progress and optimize care.
You are not alone
CCS opens the way for an intimate, shared care network to form around the patient to help change behavior through accountability and encouragement on Facebook and other social media.
Achieving an activity goal is a celebratory moment that receives praise from a circle of friends and family who can also nudge the patient to stick to the plan if they falter.
“This provides a social layer on top of a care plan, because you can tell the world you are taking this action,” says Penzo.
In broader sense, a CCS Community is created that reinforces social support as well as educates people about health and wellness. While cheering on a friend or family member, the cheerleader is brought into a circle of awareness about a particular illness and treatment, and is emboldened to participate in their own health improvement plan.
Scale, technology, and challenges
CCS leverages existing technology, standards, and protocols. It can therefore be easily scaled and extended to fit either state-run healthcare systems or privately managed healthcare models, as long as there is broad and continuous connectivity.
A key role is played by wireless devices certified by the Continua Health Alliance—a non-profit organization made up of healthcare and technology companies—that is collaborating to establish a compatible network of connected personal health solutions. For example, Continua-certified devices can seamlessly link to the user's mobile phone over a Bluetooth connection to perform continuous or periodic monitoring.
The phone synchronizes with a remote system via a secure connection over the web. A resource-oriented service layer on the back-end allows for data exchange with external systems and development of third-party applications.
frog originally developed CCS with cardiovascular patients in mind. But the platform is applicable for a wide range of health issues that require longer-term support and motivation, such as diabetes care or post-transplant recovery.
One challenge might be changing the mindset of patients and healthcare providers. Concepts like remote monitoring and sharing data on social networks raise questions about public and private boundaries for sensitive information and data, both for patients and healthcare organizations.
Yet the design and user experience of CCS reinforces the principal that it is a companion to help the patient improve their health “and not an intrusive guardian or Big Brother,” explains Alex Conconi, a software architect at frog’s Milan studio. Clear safeguards between private information and public availability are built into the system, while access to the social network via Facebook is determined and controlled entirely by the patient as a motivational factor.
How the phone in your pocket could help power a revolution in healthcare that will allow your doctor to spot problems – and intervene – no matter where you are in the world.
Dr Leslie Saxon wants to be able to measure anybody’s heartbeat, no matter where they are in the world.
The cardiologist, from the University of Southern California, specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease using wearable and implanted devices.
She believes that networked gadgets, such as an iPhone fitted with a heartrate monitor, could be the start of a revolution in healthcare that will allow your doctor to spot problems - and intervene – even if they are thousands of miles away.
The FDA has granted a 510(K) Class II clearance to San Francisco-based AliveCor’s iPhone-enabled heart monitor, which has been commonly known as the “iPhoneECG” since it first made an appearance at CES two years ago. The company announced the clearance as the mHealth Summit kicks off this week in the Washington DC area. AliveCor will begin pre-selling the $199 clinical-quality, ECG monitor, which has the form factor of an iPhone case that fits iPhone 4 and 4S devices, directly from its website starting today, December 3rd.
AliveCor CEO Judy Wade told MobiHealthNews that within a few months the heart monitor will be made available in three different ways. Starting this week physicians can buy them from AliveCor’s website for $199, and the site will require them to provide the medical identification numbers to prove that they are indeed a physician. Wade said that pricepoint is less expensive than most electronic stethoscopes. Starting early next year the company plans to encourage physicians to make the device available to their heart patients via prescription. While the specific details, including pricepoint for prescribed devices, has not yet been fully worked out, Wade told MobiHealthNews the price of the device could hover somewhere around $99 for patients whose doctor prescribes one. Finally, assuming the company secures its next 510(k) clearance, Wade expects the over-the-counter version of the heart monitor to become available sometime during the second quarter of 2013.
Wade said there are a couple of initial use cases for the device: Patients who feel like they have a heart arrhythmia problem, but are asymptomatic and it doesn’t show up when they visit their doctor’s office. This device can be at the ready if the patient has it with them, and it can be used to record the heart rhthym strip the next time the patient feels something. Another use case is for someone who has already been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and has been treat with ablation and/or medications. Wade said a physician could prescribe the device for at-home use so that they could monitor the patient remotely and determine whether the therapy was effective or is working. The device is also a preventive medicine tool since it detects arrhythmias, which can be a problem in and of themselves sometimes but can also be associated with something else — like an imminent heart attack.
Wade said that longterm the company sees a lot of power in recording and analyzing peoples’ EKGs. AliveCor refers to this as the “deep data” opportunity, as opposed to the more commonly used “big data”.
“Our vision is for everyone to have their health at their fingertips. Hopefully, before long, we will have millions of [ECG] recordings that we will be able to contextualize around simple things like your age and height. In the future the platform won’t only be interpretive it could be predictive as well. That’s why we have been very active in participating in clinical research and trials with the device because hopefully a lot of interesting research will come out of it.”
This week’s FDA clearance enables AliveCor’s Heart Monitor to be sold and marketed to “licensed medical professionals to record, display, store, transfer, and evaluate single-channel electrocardiogram (ECG) rhythms,” according to the company. “The rhythm strips can be of any duration, and are stored on the iPhone and securely in the cloud for later analysis, sharing and printing through AliveCor’s secure website. The ECG data is sent wirelessly from the Heart Monitor via AliveCor’s low-power, proprietary communication protocol, and requires no pairing between the iPhone and the device.”
Here’s how the device works: “The device incorporates electrodes into a case that snaps onto the back of an iPhone 4 or 4S. The Heart Monitor is used by launching the corresponding AliveECG app on the iPhone, holding the device in a relaxed state, and pressing fingers from each hand to each of the two appropriate electrodes on the device. The device can also be used to obtain an ECG by placing it on the chest.”
AliveCor expects to launch its Heart Monitor in the form of a “universal module” (that is similar but different to the credit card-sized prototype the company has demo’d in the past) that will work with iOS and Android devices by Q3 next year. Following that the company plans to launch a “pad” version of the heart monitor that is big enough to place your entire hand on. This form factor could be placed in health kiosks or doctor’s offices. Each of the form factors would likely require additional clearances from the FDA.
The company also secured its CE Mark and a European launch for the initial form factor is expected early next year.
Software engineer Zac Vawter, who lost his leg as the result of a motorcycle accident three years ago, will climb 103 flights of stairs at Chicago’s Willis Tower on November 4th using a bionic leg. This historic climb is part of SkyRise Chicago, an event that raises funds for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC)’s world-class clinical care and innovative research. For the world’s tallest indoor stair climb event, Vawter will use a mind-controlled prosthetic limb, which is driven by his own thoughts.
When his leg was amputated, Vawter received the Targeted Muscle Reinnervation procedure pioneered by the RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine. This allows amputees to have more natural control of prosthetic devices. He then became part of RIC’s unique research trial and travels to Chicago every few months to test the one-of-a-kind bionic leg. It interacts with him so when he pushes on the device to stand up, it reads his intentions and pushes back on him to propel him up. Vawter said:
One of the biggest differences for me is being able to take stairs step-over-step like everyone else. With my standard prosthesis, I have to take every step with my good foot first and sort of lift or drag the prosthetic leg up. With the bionic leg, it’s simple, I take stairs like I used to, and can even take two at a time.