International Day of Persons with Disabilities: JACO Robotic Arm


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As the world celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd, 2014, we decided to take a look at some of the interesting ways those in the Muscular Dystrophy Canada community use technology.

Photo Alexandre St-PierreOne use of technology that members of our community have had the chance to use and benefit from is the JACO Robotic Arm. Many of our clients have had the chance to try out the device at various gatherings, and one lucky client won the chance to have use of a JACO Robotic Arm for a full year!

Alexandre St-Pierre said that he was more independent during his time with the JACO Arm. “I use the JACO Arm to work on my computer, to place a music CD into the drive. I use it to open the cupboard and take some treats for my dog, to use the elevator in my house. It helps me to drink a cup of coffee, to eat, hold a bowl of popcorn, take the remote from my bother… to be more autonomous!”

During Empowerment In Action this past August in Richmond, British Columbia, we held a Vendor Marketplace where Kinova Robotics, makers of the JACO Robotic Arm, demonstrated the device. Many of the delegates had the chance to try the device for themselves. Keith Martin had this to say:

“I had the incredible opportunity to test out the JACO robotic arm at the Empowerment-In-Action conference’s ‘Vendor Marketplace.’ Having some background in robotics from my university engineering degree, I was fascinated with how the arm worked, and excited to give the controls a spin!

B3EQRs7IAAAOgAXWith the help of Kinova Robotics’ representative, I learned the different functions needed to control the arm and hand. After a few minutes, I was able to manoeuvre the arm to pick up a glass of water, bringing it up to my lips for a refreshing drink! The whole experience was a blast, and it easily made for my favourite picture of the EIA conference.”

Recently, Charles Deguire, the inventor of the JACO Robotic Arm won one of the 2014 Ernest C. Manning Awards.

For most of his life, Deguire watched his great uncle Jacques live with muscular dystrophy. Despite being unable to move more than one finger, his great uncle overcame his adversity and enhanced his independence by building himself an assisting arm out of household items, which he controlled with his active finger. Deeply moved and inspired by his great uncle’s experience and intuition, and motivated by his family’s entrepreneurialism, Deguire decided to dedicate his life to solving mobility problems for people living with physical disabilities.

Read the full article from Macleans here.

To learn more about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, please click here.


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