Robotics Help The Paralyzed Stand And Regain Mobility

Some of the best work being done in robots to help disabled people is from Dr. Amit Goffer of the Technion University in Israel. 


ReWalk is a robotic battery-powered exoskeleton with motorized legs and hips that enable paraplegics to walk, turn, and even climb and descend stairs again–and is FDA cleared as of 2014. 


And UPnRIDE is a wheeled auto-balancing robotic device that enables quadriplegics to stand and be mobile. 


The inventor, Dr. Goffer, is himself paralyzed from the waist down due to an accident 20-years ago.


This has inspired him to create these absolutely amazing robotic devices to assist all disabled people who are wheelchair bound. 


Approximately 1% of the people are wheelchair bound that’s 70 million


And surely, many more especially in the developing world need wheelchairs and don’t have them.


So these amazing robotic devices have the incredible capacity to help so many people stand and regain their mobility and dignity again. 


These are nothing short of miraculous and a new beginning for so many people suffering from spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, palsy, strokes and more


Being able to stand again is not only psychology healthy and helpful for mobility, but it may aid in preventing secondary conditions that wheelchair-bound people can suffer, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, loss of lean mass and difficulty with bowel and urinary functions.


ReWalk has also received approval for coverage from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for those qualifying and with spinal cord injuries. 


Hopefully, this is just the beginning for helping people around the world. Mobility is life! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to The Times of Israel)

Death With Dignity

death

It is amazing that still in the 21st century there is not widespread acceptance and legality of physician-assisted suicide. 


Even the term voluntary euthanasia (from the Greek meaning good death) is still considered taboo–similar to using the term radical Islamist.


People are afraid to call a spade a spade and deal with life’s complexities and harsh realities. 


All through history, mankind had the code of conduct and honor that when someone (person or animal) was mortality wounded by nature or in battle, they would be “put out of their misery.”


This is called COMPASSION!


Yet, in modern-day civilization, extremist PC-ness (politically correctness) dooms even such a basic fundamental act of decency toward one another. 


Like with radical Islam, the fear of saying it and admitting to a war against extremist and murderous religion ideology cannot be fathomed and so “leadership from behind” mandates that we close our eyes and pretend the boogeyman isn’t really in the room–even if it means continuous losing in the global war on terror. 


Similarly, with euthanasia, poor excuses for leaders fear that once the genie is out of the bootle, people will just be committing arbitrary acts of suicide left and right. 


Unfortunately, these weak people in leadership positions are not leaders, but rather cowards who force others to suffer whether by the hands of terrorism and war or by the unnecessary and cruel suffering for people with the most horrible illness and disabilities in society. 


In 1988, “Dr. Death,” Jack Kevorkian, provided assisted suicide to someone with the horrible, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and in turn, he had to spend 8 years in jail for second-degree murder.


Fortunately, there are now already 5 U.S. states where “physicians cannot prosecuted for prescribing medication to hasten death”, where individuals that “have a terminal illness as well as a prognosis of six months or less to live.” These include: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, and Montana (when mandated by a court ruling).  


Similarly, overseas in Switzerland, associations like DIGNITAS, provide services “accompanying dying patients at the end of their lives and assistance with suicide.”


The person must have a: 


– “terminal illness” and/or an 

– “an “unendurable incapacitating disability” and/or 

– “unbearable and uncontrollable pain.”


The end is made reasonable and humane by having a in-depth evaluation, followed by at least 2 face-to-face meetings with doctors, getting a prescription for the medicine, setting a mutually agreed date, having loved ones at their side, and self-administering the fatal dose of Sodium Pentobarbital (NaP), usually 15 mg by swallowing or administering by gastric tube or intravenously.


The medicine is “lethal, fast-acting, and completely painless”–after taking it, the patient falls asleep within a few minutes and passes peacefully. 


Having seen my own mother suffer horribly with Parkinson’s Disease, I know that voluntary euthanasia would not only have been the merciful thing to do, but the right thing to do to help people. 


Political correctness and fear of doing what needs to be done is no excuse for prolonging the suffering of those that want to exercise their right to die and who deserve their final peace. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Suicide Office To-Dos

Suicide

So at times, organizations send out notices to their staff with self help suggestions or organizational resources that are available.


One such case is for suicide prevention. 


For example, if you are thinking about suicide, perhaps you should contract the employee assistance program.


It’s a good idea to reach out to employees when the messaging is done in a way that makes employees feel they are genuinely cared about and needed, and substantial help is available to them.


People contemplating suicide are in a desperate state of mind and proper handling is nothing less than a life or death situation.


Going to the extreme to make a point for a moment, office reminders about suicide prevention should never be selfish or cavalier, such as:


– Remember to turn the lights out.


– Set your out of office message on.


– Have you done a knowledge transfer to ensure a smooth transition?


If employees are coming away feeling like the organization is just sending out a form message or treating their feelings and situation lightly or in their own interests (such as to remove/reduce liability) that is apt to make things worse and not better.


Please treat employees with genuine dignity, respect, caring, and humanity, and offer them substantive help when they need it.


There are families depending on them and they love and need them. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jason Kuffer)

Shopping At CVS Florida Style

CVS Florida

So I am posting this with permission of my wife.


This is how people walk around in CVS in Florida. 


This is not how people dress in CVS in Washington D.C. even on the hottest August days. 


It is really weird how people seemingly change their entire conception of appropriate and modest dress (code) just because they can. 


I remember when at least people coming off the beach would put on a wrap or towel or something.


Uh, not anymore–the feeling of freedom has been extended quite some to the point of this becoming all too blase. 


Maybe this is similar to the trend of some women in Times Square in New York who are going around topless with nothing but some paint even though there are families with children that frequent that touristy area. 


Perhaps it would be nice to leave a little mystery for everyone involved. 😉

You Can Always Go, Downtown!

Apple tour
This was fascinating to me at work this week…



I learned how people perceive who sits where and what it means to them.



They even come up with naming conventions for it.



So where (some) of the managers sit, that’s called “The White House.”



If you turn around and go towards the other end of the building, that’s called, “downtown.”



And crossing the hallway, past the elevators, that is called, “across the bridge,”



Clearly, the culture of each of these areas within the very same building can be completely different–some may be upbeat, friendly, and productive, and others not so much so or even the opposite with the folks running and screaming, “Get me outta here!”



The message…where people sit and even who sits next to whom is a big deal. 



Where you sit can indicate power, alliances, what is getting done, and at the other extreme who is on “the outs.”



Like in the movie, Office Space,  when the guy with the red stapler is moved with his desk and all into the caverns of the building–basically to rot because management didn’t quite like him. 



Often people who are in disfavor aren’t fired, they are simply put in cherem–excommunicated–and to die a slow and painful career and emotional death. 



On the other hand, those who are the shining stars of the organization get moved to a higher floor, with a better view, possibly a corner office, and near the boss–aha, you’re needed!



At work, I suggested a little enterprise architecture challenge to look at the three office areas: White House, Downtown, and Across the Bridge and to define the culture of these–what they are and also what do we want them to be for the people and how can we change to get there. 



No one should feel alienated, “less than” (as human beings), or put out to pasture (if they can be and want to be salvaged). 



The messages that are sent to people by assigning fancy titles, fatter paychecks, providing bigger and more luxuriously adorned offices is a form of performance management (reward and punishment)–but remember that those downtown or across the bridge–who may feel underutilized and not valued in the organization, may become the aggrieved marauding mobs that want to take the proverbial “kings head.”



While there are differences in where people are at in their careers and where they sit, generally-speaking advancement and mobility should always be based clearly on fairness, equal opportunity, and respect and dignity for all people regardless of race, color, religion, sex, etc. No one should be sitting in the leaky basement!



Also, sometimes it really is just “the luck of the draw” where people end up–truly–where G-d provides the right opportunity, you have the right skill set, those involved have the right personalities “to click”, and it’s at the right time “to work out.”.



What was also interesting about this to me is that one’s persons White House is another person’s downtown or across the bridge–it’s all relative and we are all part of the carnivorous food chain. 



Just to share something personal for me at work is that one thing that I do when setting up a meeting is that I never put in the meeting notice that the location is my office, but rather, I put it down as “my space,” because some people don’t have offices, but rather cubes, and I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. 



In the end, it’s all G-d’s space!  😉 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mickey Isn’t Smiling On Everybody

Horror Mickey
Orlando, as you know, is home to Disney’s amusement park, one of the biggest employers in the area–70,000 people.


That’s nice you say…only Bloomberg reports that Orlando has one of the highest poverty rates in the nation @ 20%–and that’s not amusing!


Even though Disney just upped their minimum salaries to $10 an hour, they have thousands on the rolls (ride operators, bus drivers, maids, etc.) earning less than $25,000 a year (and that is similar to 40% of all the jobs in Orlando), and for that even Mickey Mouse couldn’t buy any cheese.


Funny though that Disney costs a family of 5 about $1,500 for a 4-day pass, and they just earned a profit for the quarter of $2.2 billion.


Maybe next time you go to the fun house at Disney, you’ll think for a moment that it’s really a house of horror for tens of thousands of hardworking, decent people. 


Mickey Mouse is a louse and Donald Duck is a F-unny character, indeed.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Disability Rights – To Life Or Death

Disability Rights - To Life Or Death

I read today in the Wall Street Journal an editorial by Joni Eareckson Tada–which I couldn’t have disagreed with more.

Let me start by saying that I have the greatest respect for Ms. Tada who is herself a quadriplegic and has overcome unbelievable challenges to become a huge successful author, radio show host, and advocate for disabled people.

Yet in the editorial, she rails against those with disabilities that choose death over life and the laws that would enable this.

She says, “first it was assisted suicide,” and now it’s unlawful birth suits after a child was born with severe disabilities that could have been genetically screened for, and an upcoming Belgium law that may “legalize euthanasia for children with incurable diseases–who, with the support of their parents or guardians, ask to die.”

Ms. Tada calls these out as some sort of incredible “double standards” vis a vis the “freedom and dignity that the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] championed”–she says that “instead of helping the disabled live full lives, new laws seek to help them die.”

While I appreciate her sentiments, I cannot agree with them–not everyone is Ms. Tada who decided she wanted to live and was able and fortunate to do what she has done.

This is a free country and people deserve the right to decide for themselves, making an informed and a well-thought out decision and with their loved ones, if they are too young, old, or otherwise unable to make the decision anymore for themselves.

Having seen the ravages of disability, especially with my own mother, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and other ailments, I cannot believe that anyone would try to force life on someone who has endless pain and suffering and wishes only for their final peace.

Ms Tada asks, “What type of society do we want?” She goes on claiming that “if we are seeking a good society then we do well to defend the rights of the helpless-not nullify their rights,” yet this is exactly what Tada is advocating by seeking to nullify their right to end their suffering.

If it amazing that people will “put down” a sick dying animal to relieve it of it’s suffering when it is beyond cure, but we don’t show the same mercy to fellow human beings when they are in the clutches of death and torment.

There is most certainly a time when it is enough pain, enough disability, when there is no more hope, and the most decent human thing we can do is free the person from their intolerable suffering.

Life is a wonderful thing if it can be lived, but if it is a living hell, then we should be merciful and let people go to their final resting place without the anguish that only they can ever really understand.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to GizM ()17)

Cancel Out Those Tremors

This is a wonderful new product available from Lift Labs.

It is a spoon for people that suffer from hand tremors, like those from Parkinson’s Disease.

With tremors, a person has trouble lifting the spoon to their mouth and doing it without spilling.

With Lifeware, the tremors are said to be reduced in trials by 70%!

The spoon is battery operated and it has sensors for the tremors and performs countermeasures to stabilize itself.

It does this with technology including an accelerometer and microprocessor to actively cancel out the tremor.

In the future, additional attachments are forecasted, including a folk, keyholder, and more.

The special device was made possible through a grant under the NIH Small Business Innovation Research Program.

An awesome advance for Parkinson’s patients to be more self-sufficient and live with dignity despite such a debilitating illness.

Thank you to the engineers at Life Labs (and to the NIH) for bringing this stabilization technology to those who really can benefit from it.

What Will Do You For Cake?

What Will Do You For Cake?

I remember a joke the guys use to tell back in college…about how you can’t have you Kate and Edith too.

Cake and eat it too…get it?

Here is a link to my article in Public CIO Magazine called “How Hungry Are You?”

It’s about how some people will literally sacrifice their souls for success, while others put their humanity and decency above it.

Hope you enjoy!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Live A Good Life, Choose Right

Whether you’re Jewish, Christian, Muslim, or any other religion, I think this is a great music video on living an introspective life, choosing right from wrong, and replacing guilt with inspiration.

We are all confronted every day with situations that are tests of our moral fiber and courage to do what’s right–not necessarily what is easy,

We should choose carefully, consciously, and with a mind toward the master of the universe who watches over us.

While we don’t control everything that happens, we can definitely make a difference in the world by the way we conduct ourselves to our G-d and to each other.

Listening, caring, being sensitive to others, treating others with respect and dignity, trying to help wherever and whenever we can–we can all make a positive contribution.

Well done with the music video to remind us of what’s important–thank you Maccabeats!