A highlight of the trade fair programme: new products presented by MOBITIPP
The new, not yet published product from Meyra Group GmbH
Be curious about Meyra's product world premiere at REHAB 2023. (Photo: Meyra Group GmbH)

The first day of the trade fair on Thursday 15 June 2023 will begin with a world premiere exclusive to REHAB. MEYRA, a German wheelchair manufacturer that has been on the market for over than 85 years, will unveil a brand-new product.

New developments in electric wheelchairs

Mobility is a major issue for all aid users, both at home and increasingly when travelling. Being out is often very difficult for users of electric wheelchairs, as the wheelchair and its battery unit are often bulky and difficult to transport. Whether travelling by car, train or plane, the ergoflix LX electric wheelchair is perfect for journeys. It can carry people weighing up to 160 kg, despite having a net weight of just 23.5 kg, and can be folded together quickly and easily.

Product Leolevel - wheelchair of Motion Solutions
The new LEOlevel wheelchair from Motion Solutions can be tested on site at REHAB. (Photo: Motion Solutions GmbH)

The New Live Magix from NHD combines front, central and rear-wheel drive with its unique six-wheel drive system. This makes it suitable for use off road, indoors and in narrow corridors. Despite its six wheels, it is smaller and more compact that many other electric wheelchairs. It can also overcome kerbs and obstacles up to 15 cm in height.

Made in Switzerland, the Scewo BRO is a two-wheel wheelchair with tracks that make climbing stairs and overcoming many structural obstacles a breeze. Now also established on the German market, the wheelchair continues to impress users. BRO uses sensors to scan the surroundings, and can therefore automatically detect the end of a staircase, for example. It is also constantly becoming more intelligent and gaining new functions thanks to regular software updates.

Motion Solutions will present its brand-new LEOlevel at REHAB. Transfer is often the most difficult thing for many electric wheelchair users, especially when they have limited or no use of their arms for support. The LEOlevel let them adjust the seat of the wheelchair to any height, all the way to floor level. Motion Solutions developed a special seat lift system for the LEOlevel that can adjust the seat height from 0 to 62 cm. It also has a load bearing capacity of up to 100 kg, which helps it stand out from comparable wheelchair models.

Child with the Exopulse Mollii Suit from Otto Bock
The Exopulse Mollii Suit from Otto Bock will also be presented as a new product at REHAB. (Photo: Otto Bock HealthCare Deutschland GmbH)

New innovations for active wheelchair users

Active wheelchair users travel all over the world with their wheelchairs. The Twist from Klaxon/Otto Bock is a small and multifunctional drive system. The compact wheel with an integrated electric motor and battery is easy to attach and is extremely versatile. Light and manoeuvrable, the Twist was developed to accompany wheelchair users on every journey. Simply attach and start exploring the world!

Every disability or impairment is different. THE KSL from Küschall features a minimalist and elegant design, and is above all highly customisable. It is produced to order and can therefore be tailored to individual needs. Brand ambassador Moritz Brückner will share his experiences at the MOBITIPP programme.

Car specialist Paravan from south-west Germany is the perfect partner for people who travel frequently and need a suitable car. The company will unveil a new product for the first time at REHAB onsite, but is keeping it a mystery. Whatever it is, we can be sure to expect clever technology and design.

For people with neurological conditions

Neurological conditions often change continuously over the course of a patient’s life. The unique NANO S from Meyra is the world’s first folding wheelchair with an open frame design (mono-tube) featuring swivelling and removable leg supports. As a result, the NANO S is ideal for all neurological treatments. It enables efficient movement training for the legs and can be adapted to individual needs.

Kinova is known for its innovative Jaco robotic arm. Now, it has expanded its portfolio with the dynamic Dowing and Gowing arm support systems from the Dutch manufacturer Focal Meditech. These are especially well suited for people who still have sufficient residual function in their arms. With these products, Kinova has completed its product range for people with impaired function in their upper extremities.

Each product unique

T-RV has been exhibiting at REHAB for 25 years. The family-run company provides disabled people with highly customisable products for sitting and positioning from leading international brands. “We always focus on the individual solution and personal benefit for every single person. We know from our own family history just how important this is”, says founder and CEO Albert Föhrenbühler.

An exciting, entertaining and practical trade fair programme

Professional development will be the subject of special focus at this year’s REHAB. There will be a range of events on offer in the forums in Hall 2 and Hall 3, as well as in the Guidzter.com Lounge and the Inclusive sports complex in the dm-arena. These will include inspiring presentations from the community on topics like travel or everyday lifehacks, the chance to get involved in sporting events like wheelchair biathlon or arm wrestling with world champions, and discussions on topics like nursing, home care and child rehabilitation. Our partners have put together a comprehensive programme for visitors that is fascinating and entertaining in equal measure.

Photo of the Forum Hall 3 during REHAB with many audience listening to a lecture.
A wide range of presentations on current and exciting topics will be held in the forums in Hall 2 and Hall 3. (Photo: Messe Karlsruhe)

Forums in Hall 2 and Hall 3

The German Expert Network for Outpatient Intensive Care (CNI e.V.) will offer presentations and insights on the topics of homecare and nursing in the forums. The child and youth rehabilitation topic block will focus on products like the Molii Suit from Otto Bock, which stimulates movement and provides support for patients with neurological conditions. Specialists from the therapy and specialist retail sectors should find out about the new aid app proviko. The association rehaKIND will offer a series of presentations on the topic of supported communication from the perspectives of users and manufacturers, as well as legal insights concerning aids provision and the pressing needs of very young patients. Other topic areas in the programme at REHAB include strokes and brain injuries, barrier-free building and digital assistive technologies.

Action and entertainment at the dm-arena

The dm-arena will have plenty on offer throughout the event for all fans from the active community, as well as those looking for advice, wheelchair users and others. Visitors searching for the right contact partner should head to the Guidzter.com Lounge. Here they will find five guides ready to answer questions and provide advice, support and inspiration in all areas of life. The young online community has also created a programme for the event.

Alongside this, the Inclusive sports complex at the dm-arena will offer a wide range of sports that visitors can discover and try out. The programme includes adaptive self-defence for all as well as wheelchair hockey, powerchair hockey and wheelchair biathlon presented among others by former Olympic wheelchair fencing champion Esther Weber.

The partners of the REHAB trade fair programme and the Inclusive sports complex are:

You can find more information about planning your visit to the trade fair and getting involved in the individual programme events here.

Florida 2022 - Two weeks of spectacular normality

Pretty excited my wife and I start into this vacation, because for three years it is the first that we make again without a camper. Our journey starts right at the apartment door, with the S-Bahn to the airport.

Barrier-free room? Of course!

Key West - The drive over the bridges of the Overseas Highway, right through the ocean, is spectacular. At the hotel we have a déjà vu, because chickens and a rooster march across the parking lot. This reminds us of the island of Kauaii, there these animals also just run around freely. Many questions simply do not arise in the USA. Barrier-free room, wheelchair accessible shuttle bus - of course! This lack of worry is almost unusual and contributes to the fact that real relaxation spreads in the vacation.

We don't just hop from hotel to hotel, but always seek out adventures, like the Everglades Safari Park. Again, it's a moment when it strikes me as extraordinarily positive that everything is normal. It is normal for a person in a wheelchair to want to ride in a propeller boat. It is normal that I can look at everything in this park, without stairs and steps. It's normal that there is a handicapped accessible restroom. All of this makes it incredibly easy to marvel at the nature of the Everglades, which is so unique. The alligators, the many birds and the wonderful plants with water everywhere.

Miami - With its glossy facades, it is the stark contrast. Ocean Drive in the famous Art Deco style is a special attraction at dusk and at night. Florida shows itself in the most colorful colors.

On Black Friday, of course, you go to the mall! Shopping until the credit card glows, from the Nike Store to Victoria Secrets and the Levi's store to the Oakley. It is just normal that even a person in a wheelchair moves in these crowds.

Guest in the "Rocket Garden"

I freaked out when I read a few days earlier that we would be able to see the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket live at the Kennedy Space Center. Rarely have I looked forward to an event so much. And again, it's just normal for a person with a wheelchair to come here, too.

You experience normalcy as something so special and totally relaxing at the same time. Past the "rocket garden" we go to a meadow where we have a clear view of the launch pad. We follow the countdown on the video wall, watch the engines ignite and a few moments later see the rocket rise into the cloudless sky. The Americans just know how to put on a good show, as evidenced by the other attractions here, like the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

If someone had told me in 2019 that I could savor the Kennedy Space Center or two days of Disney World like this, I would have outright called them crazy at the time. What's almost crazy to me is the fun I was able to have at Disney World. No day in the Magic Kingdom is allowed to end without fireworks. There is even a separate area with a clear view of the illuminated Disney Castle and the spectacle in the sky.

My tip: Buy souvenirs during the day, after the fireworks, the stores are totally crowded and the lines at the cash registers endless.

Without the wheelchair, I would never have been able to experience everything on this vacation, let alone enjoy it so much. If you want to go on vacation in a wheelchair, the USA is a real tip. It's too good just to be normal.

This was the personal travel report of Matthias Fuchs from the Guidzter.com team. You can meet him and other guides at REHAB. Here he presents his travel experiences live.

Outdoor Fun Unlimited - Recreational Solutions for People with Limited Mobility

You can find the press release in German version here!

Inclusive sports area at the REHAB

You can find the press release in German version here!

Children's book tip: About life with a wheelchair

You can find the press release in German version here!

Myofasciotomy - a minimally invasive treatment for shortened muscles.

You can find the press release in German version here!

“Conditions and symptoms in paediatric rehabilitation are so diverse that evidence-based scientific studies are virtually impossible”

“Evidence-based paediatric therapy is not really possible”, says Dr Kristina Müller. This is because comparable progressions happen too rarely for randomised studies. Despite this, the neuropaediatric specialist has chosen to focus on precisely this topic in her presentation at the CON.THERA interdisciplinary therapy conference taking place alongside REHAB in Karlsruhe. But why?

The portrait shows Dr Kristina Müller. She wears brown glasses and has short dark hair with grey streaks. Dr Müller is laughing and looking at the camera. She is also wearing a white top with a collar and a narrow chain around her neck.
Dr. Kristina Müller is a child neurologist and gives a lecture during the CON.THERA therapists' congress, which takes place as part of REHAB. (Image: St. Mauritius Therapy Clinic Meerbusch)

The renowned child neurologist works at the Mauritius-Therapieklinik near Düsseldorf and has over 23 years of experience with young patients. She believes that science and research have to work together closely: “The criteria for scientific studies may be too strict, but we still rely on pedagogical and other statistical models to prove the effectiveness of our therapies and secure funding.

We can learn a lot from adult neurology here. The brain’s repair mechanisms are not so different in children and we can use the same principles for treatment as we do in adults.”

A girl is in a rehabilitation area. She is wearing a pink T-shirt and grey-pink sports shorts. The girl is standing on her right leg. Her left leg is amputated from the thigh down. She wears a prosthesis on her left leg that reaches down to the ground. She is also standing on the floor with this prosthesis. The girl holds on to a rollable support with both arms and hands and looks at a therapist who is standing opposite her.
The Schuchmann company manufactures children's rehabilitation technology - like this prosthesis. (Picture: Schuchmann)

Müller emphasises the importance of pedagogical insights gained in paediatric therapy. Things like frequent repetition, high training intensity, a supportive environment and the right medication where necessary are the keys to successful rehabilitation. “Repetition is the mother of learning”, she explains, “We can only achieve our goals and help children and young people with neurological conditions achieve their full potential by using the latest therapeutic methods.”

Technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) are easing the rehabilitation process for youngsters by making the many necessary repetitions fun and exciting. This helps the brain learn and pushes it to improve performance. The fun factor is vital here. Robot-supported electronic training equipment boosts motivation, allowing patients to continue their exercises properly at home after leaving the hospital. “But it’s early days yet, there is a very long way to go”, says Dr Müller.

Gait robot relieves therapists

Robotic gait orthoses and other training devices are already relieving therapists so that they can focus on individual patient needs. Sharing neurological knowledge and research results, as well as an evidence-based approach through observation, are also essential parts of training for therapists. That is why the CON.THERA conference is open to all disciplines and professions involved in the therapeutic process. “Although training is becoming much more academic, practical knowledge and the human element are at least just as important in creating gifted therapists.”

A boy, about seven years old, is wearing a yellow T-shirt. He has brown hair and is in a therapy stand from the Otto Bock company. The therapy stand is orange and has two large loops that hold the boy. The boy is laughing and looking at a therapist who is also laughing and holding a green handball in her hands.
The therapy stand from Otto Bock helps children to stand upright despite limitations and thus promotes the correct development of the body. (Image: Otto Bock)

Müller is concerned at how funding providers currently treat both rehabilitation treatments and aids when it comes to approval: “The lack of evidence backing up certain therapies and aids is used as an excuse to deny funding. For a long time, the situation in paediatric therapy was good. But now it feels like we have gone back 20 years. Patients are forced to wait for months, if not years, waiting for funding providers to approve treatment and aids. Sometimes the health insurer will say it is the responsibility of the pension provider or integration support agency, other times it’s the other way round.” At the end of the day, the ones who suffer most are the children and youngsters who have to wait far too long for their treatment. These delays close off important development windows, meaning that patients miss out on recovery opportunities.

Müller also criticises the mountain of bureaucracy involved. She would prefer to spend her time treating patients, rather than filling in forms.

These aids support people in need of care and relatives in the home

It is therefore essential that the environment in which these people live both enables the greatest degree of autonomy and provides as much support as possible to carers.

Homecare marketplace offers solutions

This subject will be the focus of the Homecare & Nursing marketplace at the 22nd REHAB trade fair in Karlsruhe from 15 to 17 June. Together with the Expertise Network for Outpatient Intensive Care (CNI) and the industry magazine beatmet leben published by hw-Studio Weber, the event will provide an overview of products and services that make life easier for people who require assistance, as well as the specialists and family members who care for them. A series of accompanying presentations by participating exhibitors will provide further information and support.

Sven Kübler from the board of the CNI explains: “Our presentations at REHAB will focus on reacting to the latest legislative developments. We will take a critical look at the implementation of Germany’s new Intensive Care and Rehabilitation Improvement Act (IPReG), for example, as well as the practical consequences for outpatient intensive care. One of the key focus areas at REHAB is care for children and young people. That is why our agenda will also look at their transition from youth to adulthood.”

One area in which the CNI and its members are particularly active is cutting bureaucracy in healthcare, a goal that the German government has agreed to pursue: “All parties recognise the pointlessness of follow-up prescriptions for aids for people who need these their entire lives. Once a need has been established, it will not go away. Patients, carers, providers, care services and medical professionals should not have to constantly worry about repeat prescriptions, as well as all the hassle that involves”, complains Kübler.

A staircase, whose steps are bran-white and whose banister is white, leads from the ground floor to the ground floor. At the foot of the stairs is a light brown chair, this is the Captura-Lifta.
The Captura-Lifta helps people to cope with stairs. (Image :Lifta)

The government has already begun to simplify care. Since 2022, professional carers have been allowed to prescribe the necessary aids themselves on simplified forms, without having to get a prescription from a doctor. Specialists who know their patients well also know which bathing, hygiene, mobility, transfer and bedding aids can help them live an autonomous life.

Each person receiving care in a household can claim up to 4,000 euros to fund alterations to their home. Lawyer Jörg Hackstein explains: “This is not a one-off. The grant of up to 4,000 euros can be claimed repeatedly whenever alterations are necessary. This can be the case when an objective change in the care situation makes further improvements to the living environment necessary that were not yet required over the course of the previous alterations.”

Visitors to REHAB will be able to discover and try out countless new and proven products that improve life at home for people receiving care. The mobile lifts in particular grant users freedom of movement throughout their own home, while protecting their back during transfer at any stage of life. With market leaders like SLK, Petermann, Liftstar, Liftec and handi-move all showcasing their products, visitors will get a complete overview of this diverse market. The aids are as unique as the people who require them, with static, drivable and rail-based solutions all available.

A man in his 80s is wearing a dark blue bathrobe and is just getting up from a toilet. He is holding on to special handles with his right and left hand. This system is the Quattro Power Support Toilet from Roth.
The Quattro Power Support Toilet from Roth helps people go to and from the toilet. (Image: Roth GbmH)

Funding providers assume the costs for mobile ramps that help users enter their home or car. People with impaired mobility are increasingly having major alterations made to their apartments or houses, so that they can live as autonomously as possible for as long as possible in their own homes. Lifton offers compact platform lifts for interior and exterior installation. In Germany, these can be funded by the nursing care insurance budget for home improvements and cost less than a lift with cabin.

How multi-storey terraced houses become barrier-free

These compact, elegantly designed lifts require minimal ceiling penetration. They travel slowly, but can cover up to five floors. This can make even a multi-storey terraced house fully accessible, for example. Wheelchair users and people with disabilities are not the only ones who can benefit from this. Senior citizens and families with small children can also enjoy the additional convenience.


Statistics show that there are around five million people in Germany in need of care. 80 per cent of these are 65 or older, and a third are at least 85 years old. The probability that we will need care increases massively as we get older. While around 9 per cent of those aged 70 to 74 required care, this figure rises to 82 per cent among the over-90s. As societies age, the people affected, their carers and political decision-makers alike must all realise this.

Emergency situations of people with ventilation: This is how they are helped particularly quickly

You can find the press release in German version here!


You can find the press release in German version here!

The dictionary of self-determined participation

Since 2018, there has been a special counseling service for people with disabilities and their relatives: the Supplementary Independent Participation Counseling (EUTB).

On their website, a dictionary provides support for all people interested in the self-determined participation of people with disabilities. The collection of terms it contains is intended to help people prepare better for a counseling interview, apply for benefits or better understand laws, but also to create awareness for the self-determined perception of interests with the clarification of terms.

Click HERE for the book

Everyday life hacks – Great ideas by and for people with disabilities

That is the idea behind the Klub der Alltagspioniere (everyday pioneers club). This is a community for collecting and sharing ideas that make life easier for people with disabilities. The community provides a platform for solutions from people who know what it is like to experience barriers in everyday life, encounter bureaucratic nightmares, have difficulty in gaining approval for living aids or who struggle to find suitable support for their own problems. The everyday life hacks are collected, organised into categories and presented on the website, social media and as useful videos on YouTube.

The club is a fast-growing community, and all people with chronic illnesses or disabilities are welcome to share their ideas. The beat way to do so is via email: hallo@alltagspioniere.de.

  • More information about the community can be found HERE (German only)
  • Want to know more about the everyday life hacks? Watch the videos on YouTube (German only)

Overcoming impaired hand function to master everyday life
A young woman sits in a wheelchair and works on a laptop. Her right arm rests on an armrest that allows her to type on the keyboard. The woman is wearing a red jumper, has blonde hair and glasses.
The Kinova arm support is attached to a work chair or wheelchair to support the arm during various movements. In doing so, a combination of the user's own arm and the arm support helps them to move freely. (Picture: Kinova)

Grasping is an important part of development and being able to participate independently in life. This also applies to people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The task here is to improve, retain or restore their ability to grip.

Many studies into people suffering from paralysis, rheumatism, the neurological effects of strokes or other conditions that cause a loss of hand and arm strength have repeatedly found hand function and mobility of the upper extremities to be essential to life.

In Germany, the focus on independent and autonomous activity was enshrined into law in 2020 with the Federal Participation Act (Bundesteilhabegesetz, BTHG). But in medicine, the change from seeing those affected as people in need of care to people capable of caring for themselves happened long ago.

Exhibitors present aids at REHAB

National and international manufacturers of living aids have risen to the challenges and responded with new technology throughout the period of the pandemic. The REHAB 2023 trade fair at the Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre will showcase a broad range of arm and hand mobility aids for users of all ages and with a variety of conditions.

An older man with glasses and a bald head drinks from a red cup. He is sitting at a table. His left arm rests on it, his right arm, which brings the cup to his mouth, rests in an armrest made by Kinova.
In addition to the Gowing, Kinova also offers the Dowing. It is equipped with a motor and is suitable for weaker patients. (Picture: Kinova)

Kinova, a Canadian provider of robot solutions for people with disabilities, has added two dynamic arm support systems to its product range. The Gowing and Dowing help people who suffer from impaired arm function as a result of illness or accident. The products activate and support the residual force that many users still have in their arms.

The Gowing is a mechanical, flexible and tailor-made arm support that can be attached to any point on therapy chairs or furniture. It is also suitable for young children, helping them to perform tasks with friends of the same age and therefore gain independence.

Goal: Increase the quality of life

The Dowing is fitted with a motor and is designed for weaker patients. Despite the weight of the motor, the solution weighs less than the conventional robot arms that have been used to help patients with quadriplegia and muscle conditions for many years. Both products focus on using advanced technology to improve users’ quality of life and compensate for their disability.

A young woman with brown long hair and round glasses is standing at a table with fruit in bowls and on a board. Her left hand rests on the table with the tips of her fingers, and she is wearing an orthosis from HKK Bionics on her left hand. With it, she holds a cutting knife in her hand.
HKK Bionics manufactures myoelectric hand orthoses for people whose hands are completely paralysed. (Picture: HKK Bionics)

HKK Bionics is a start-up founded by two medical engineering students from the German city of Ulm. They have developed the Exomotion Hand One: the first myoelectric hand orthosis for fully paralysed hands. The product resembles a glove and uses an arm splint to move artificial tendons via impulses from active muscle that is activated on the affected arm or in the back. This lets the user move their fingers to perform a variety of gripping motions for eating, drinking or opening doors, for example. The clever solution has already proven popular among many medical and healthcare suppliers in Germany, who have made individual customisations to the fingers and splints.

A man with black-grey hair stands in a kitchen. With his right hand he is holding a plate on which a piece of Parmesan cheese is lying. On his left hand he wears a carbon hand from Exxomove and rubs the cheese with it.
Exxomove makes carbon hands. However, users must have certain residual strength for this. (Picture: Exxomove)

The Carbonhand from Exxomove based in southern Germany enables patients suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis or painful changes in the hand to enjoy an independent life. Much like the Exomotion Hand One, the product augments residual force using artificial tendons and fingertip sensors to perform the intended gripping motions. It can also be used in therapy and rehabilitation to develop strength and endurance.

An artificial hand holding a spoon reaches into a bowl of cereal and milk.
For example, eating muesli is possible with the Neofect hand adapter. (Picture: Neofact)

The variable Tactee system from Neofect lets users grasp objects with their own hand and makes use of magnetic exchangeable accessories. The system is based on a hand adapter that is available in three sizes and is easy to put on. Various everyday aids are then attached using the patented magnet system. These include eating utensils, pens, toothbrushes, combs, a bottle holder and a range of other modules. These all support both older users with reduced gripping power and people with highly impaired neurological abilities due to a stroke, multiple sclerosis or other conditions.

Solutions like these all aim to grant users autonomy and independence, and therefore improve their quality of life. Germany’s Federal Participation Act places great emphasis on integrating affected people into everyday life and the workplace, regardless of their degree of impairment. It therefore also supports the people who need it most. Doctors and therapists involved in treatment must work together with users to determine needs in everyday life and participation. These requirements can then be used to select the right aid together with a medical supply store and apply for cost cover from the insurance provider.

All of the aforementioned aid products will be available to try out at the 22nd REHAB exhibition from 15 to 17 June 2023 at the Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre. This will take place alongside the CON.THERA Interdisciplinary Conference for Therapists, which will offer practical training and professional development to therapists and specialists in rehabilitative and orthopaedic technology.

  • Information about Exxomove: HEREHERE
  • More Informationen about HKK Bionics and its product: HERE
  • Everything about the concept of Neofact: HERE
  • The everyday aids from Kinova are available HERE

Neurorehabilitation: When scientific approach meets old ways of thinking and stubborn misconceptions

Neurorehabilitation aims to help patients with neurological conditions live as independently as possible through physical activities. Following diagnosis of the patient’s functional or social limitations, therapists can discuss the specific treatment goals with them. The aim here is to coordinate the entire interdisciplinary team of ergotherapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, neuropsychologists, care and social workers, doctors and orthopaedic technicians. Should a patient need rehabilitation and orthopaedic treatment, they can undergo a training course catered to their needs that uses three approaches:

1. Repeating simple activities over and over again teaches the brain to develop new structures and replace damaged ones.

2. Continuously adjusting the level of difficulty to the patient’s limits leads to improvements.

3. A series of varied training units that are practically focused on everyday life help to convince and motivate the patient.

Scientifically developed guidelines are changing neurorehabilitation, while those training the next generation of therapists are confronting persistent myths.

Hans and Sabine Lamprecht can be seen. Both are looking at each other.
Hans and Sabine Lamprecht. (Pictures: HSH Lamprecht)

From healers to coaches – how scientific approaches are breaking down old ways of thinking

Sabine Lamprecht is a tutor, author and physiotherapist with a master’s degree in neurorehabilitation. She has led an interdisciplinary therapy clinic with her husband for several years and explains what has changed in that time:

“The way that practitioners see themselves has changed enormously in the 40 years that I’ve spent in this sector. Neurorehabilitation aims to restore lost capabilities. But rather than doing it for the patients, we help them do it themselves. We are no longer “healers”, but more like coaches who support people on their journey towards self-empowerment.”

A man is running on a treadmill and smiling. A therapist stands next to him and looks at him.
Gait training is part of the therapy.

Looking back, Lamprecht recalls: “Neurorehabilitation is an overwhelmingly therapeutic procedure. When I started my career, our work was based on empirical knowledge and assumptions. Observations in treatment sometimes led to conclusions that cannot be proven today with scientific approaches.”

In her work as a tutor too, Lamprecht encounters old ways of thinking that have proven stubborn despite modern advances in therapeutic training: “We must work in a way that is evidence based, scientifically sound and based on guidelines. This principle must be present in all professions that are involved in our interdisciplinary work, as well as in their training and academic spheres.”

The entire team of the Lamprecht practice can be seen.
The team of the Lamprecht practice.

Sabine Lamprecht is convinced: “This constant education is essential. We have to clearly separate facts from assumptions. Especially here in Germany, where there are still persisting structures that prevent a much-needed overhaul in therapeutic training and practice.”

From learning to walk to enjoying a coffee with colleagues, e-mobility has no age limit
A child of about one year sits in a yellow mini wheelchair. The child sits on a seat and leans with its back against it. It has its hands on a small table, to which a joystick is attached that is intended for steering. The feet are on a platform. There are castors attached to the platform.
The Explorer Mini from Permobil helps even the smallest children to be independent. (Picture: permobil GmbH)

When learning motor capabilities, being able to sit freely is a an important step in a child’s physical development. Neuromuscular support and posture mechanisms function as the child intends, therefore freeing up the arms and hands. This allows children to independently perform actions like using a toy, feeding and interacting with others. It is here that support with living aids becomes decisive in helping the child become and feel capable.

Straightening up important for development

As the child discovers their environment, they reach for objects and climb up furniture. In doing so, they achieve the next major development step. Standing up straight allows the internal organs, bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles to develop fully, as well as functions like breathing, digestion and circulation.

Walking is another milestone in a child’s motoric and cognitive development, as well as their independence. Children with disabilities need a suitable wheelchair early on to encourage this development. These are much more than just smaller versions of adult wheelchairs. They grow with the child and have several additional functions.

Customise wheelchairs

Willy Hagelstein is a wheelchair user himself and a mobility advocate at Sorg Rollstuhltechnik, a specialist for children’s wheelchairs. He is convinced: “These light children’s wheelchairs can be fully and precisely adjusted to the child’s size and needs. This is the kind of aid that children with restricted mobility need today from as early as 18 months. The reason this is so important is that this is the age where healthy children learn to walk. Providing a wheelchair can therefore help prevent disabled children from falling behind in their development.”

Lightweight wheelchairs like SORG’s Mio Carbon are made from sturdy aluminium and are best suited to children who struggle to exert physical force but still want to propel their wheelchair themselves.

Ein etwa zweijähriges Kind sitzt in einem orangefarbenen Rollstuhl. Das Kind hat dünnes blondes Haar. Es hat beide Händen an den Griffen der Rollstuhlräder.
The children's wheelchairs from Sorg Rollstuhtechnik can be individually adapted to each child. From the age of 18 months, the adolescents can be provided with the wheelchairs.(picture: Sorg Rollstuhltechnik)

All these development steps are accompanied by adults, ideally in a safe environment. It is normal for children to suffer setbacks as they learn these new abilities. From a neuroscientific perspective, repeating these motions over and over is enormously important to cognitive development.

But there are now also smaller electric wheelchair models available for children who cannot propel a manual wheelchair. Some feature playful and colourful designs that make them look like normal children’s walkers. Only upon closer inspection does one notice the small joystick. Other wheelchairs designed for larger children are heavier and sturdier.

The benefits of giving children an electric wheelchair to aid their development early on often outweigh arguments made by cost bearers like the risk of injury or hazards in traffic. The responsibility for a child’s safety, whether they are disabled or not, lies with the parents. They must provide a safe environment in which children can learn how to use the wheelchairs.

Electric wheelchairs can be configured to match the child’s needs and capabilities. Special controls let them move safely, while the seating position can be adjusted precisely all the way to a standing position. The smaller variants feature priority switching via an independent controller or even allow complete control by accompanying adults.

This lets the children be fully involved right from the start. They can actively play with other children at kindergarten, go to school and interact with siblings and classmates.

A girl of about one year sits in a yellow children's wheelchair. The girl's hands are resting on a table connected to the wheelchair, while the girl is touching a joystick attached to the table. The girl smiles at the camera. In the background, an adult woman and an adult man as well as a light brown dog can be seen. The adults are petting the dog and can be seen out of focus in the background.
With the Explorer Mini, the Permobil company replaces baby walkers for very young "walkers" and enables severely limited children to experience the world independently. (picture: permobil GmbH)

will showcase several specialists for manual and electric children’s wheelchairs, with various products available to try out. Therapists from MEYRA will be on hand to advise parents about early-years mobility. The Explorer Mini from Permobil replaces walkers for very young children, allowing even those with severe disabilities to explore the world on their own.

“When a student is able to celebrate their graduation standing with a glass of bubbly and their friends, that’s when you know a wheelchair with standing aid was a good investment”, says Ulrich Maschkow from Vassili. He is proud of how the Italian brand’s HiLo MPRO wheelchair perfectly combines activity and function. “We spent three years developing this product. In that time, we combined a lightweight active wheelchair with an electric standing aid that can be operated manually. This frees up the user’s other hand to drink a coffee with their colleagues, for example. That’s obviously before we even get to the psychological benefits and metabolic stimulation that come from standing.”

More information about the companies exhibiting at REHAB can be found here:

Fitness app for paraplegics enters test phase

Employees of the Cologne Sports University spent two years researching the ParaGym app. Visitors to the 21st Rehab, which took place from 23 to 25 June 2022, were also able to find out about the fitness app for paraplegics.

Now the creators are facing the next step of the project. The functionality, user-friendliness and safety of the app will be tested as part of a feasibility study.

Eine Frau sitzt in einem Sportrollstuhl und spielt Tennis. Sie holt gerade zu einem Schlag aus und blickt konzentriert auf den Ball. Im Hintergrund ist das Publikum zu sehen, das ihr zuschaut.
There are lots of fitness apps in the Apple Appstore and the Google Playstore. The Sports University Cologne is working on a special fitness app for paraplegics. Now the test phase is about to begin. (Photo: Messe Karlsruhe/Jürgen Rösner)

Test persons are being sought for this purpose. People between the ages of 18 and 67 who have suffered from chronic paraplegia for at least one year can participate. During the six-week test phase, the users train three times a week for about half an hour with the first test version of the ParaGym app. On-site testing will take place at the German Sport University in Cologne before and after the training period.

The study will start at the beginning of January 2023 and will be coordinated by Janika Bolz and Institute Director Univ.-Prof. Hans-Georg Predel. Anyone who is interested can apply until the end of December. For more information on the study, including how to apply, please send an email to j.bolz@dshs-koeln.de.

Book tip:
Natalie Dedreux sits on a wooden bench and looks into the camera. She is wearing a black leather jacket and green trousers in a leopard pattern.
Natalie Dedreux: activist, blogger and writer. (pictures: Knaur)

The 23-year-old Natalie Dedreux from Cologne is a blogger and activist. She first became known to a wider audience through her appearance in the election arena for the Bundestag elections in September 2017, when she asked Angela Merkel about late-term abortion of disabled children. Her question was: "Nine out of ten babies with Downs Syndrome are not born in Germany, they are aborted. What is your position on late-term abortion?"

The front of the book by Natalie Dedreux. The title
"My life is cool after all" is the name of Natalie Dedreux's book.

In her book "Mein Leben ist doch cool" (My life is cool after all), Dedreux has written down her thoughts and views and her political ideas in 100 short essays. The spectrum of topics is broad and ranges from Afghanistan to Judaism to vegan nutrition. Clear and to the point, the young "Incluenzerin" with Down syndrome describes the pressing issues of our time and encourages us to look at them from a new and different perspective.

Dedreux publishes a book against prejudice and with a committed appeal for the participation of all people in our world without fear of contact. "I want people to read my book because I think what I have to say here is important. Then people will see that living with Down syndrome is also cool," says the author.

Droemer Knaur, hardback edition October 2022, 16.99 euros, e-book 12.99 euros

“Take it seriously, investigate the causes and provide information” - The current strategy for fatigue and long COVID

For those affected, life with long covid or fatigue is very stressful. The syndrome is also of great importance for society as a whole due to long periods of sick leave. Prof. Dr. Christian Dettmers is the head of the Multiple Sclerosis Department at the Schmieder Clinics in Constance and a proven specialist for Long COVID. In various studies with affected patients, he has conducted research on fatigue at the Schmieder Clinics, which specialise in Long COVID, and is familiar with the latest medical developments. He will be speaking at REHAB 2023 as part of the CON.THERA congress taking place there.

Prof. Dr Christian Dettmers looks into the camera. He is wearing a blue and white striped shirt and an olive green bow tie, with a white doctor's coat over it.
Prof. Dr Christian Dettmers is an expert on long covid and fatigue. At the neurological specialist and rehabilitation hospital of the Schmieder Clinics in Constance, he heads the multiple sclerosis department. He knows that the problem affects many people. At REHAB 2023, he will speak on the topic as part of the CON.THERA therapist congress. (Pictures: Schmieder Clinics)

“Fatigue is a serious problem for the affected patients. The tiredness and exhaustion, as well as the long recovery period, make life very difficult. In terms of treatment, the first step is always to look for organic causes and determine whether there are any cognitive impairments, or whether psychosocial components intensify the syndrome.”

While fatigue is a subjectively experienced tiredness, the term fatigability refers to a potential organic cause of low physical performance and weariness. This complex of symptoms can be triggered by rheumatic diseases or even cancer.

Organic or non-organic causes

Long-lasting symptoms following an infection with SARS-CoV-2, also known as long COVID or post-COVID syndrome, have complicated the picture further. Research is still ongoing into the possible causes of this condition. Although patients report lower energy levels, this has proven difficult to measure and verify. They also suffer from a debilitating tiredness that makes everyday life almost impossible and sometimes leads to long periods off work. Recent studies have indicated that these cognitive impairments could be down to areas of the brain being affected and becoming inflamed due to COVID. There may therefore be a connection between organic causes and accompanying psychological or psychiatric symptoms.

Ein Mann läift auf einem Laufband und absolviert ein Training. Er trägt eine Maske, mit Hilfe derer sein Lungenvermögen getestet wird. Der Mann trägt ein blauen Shirt und eine dunkelblaue Hose. Daneben steht ein Therapeut und beobachtet den Mann.
A patient is doing treadmill training. This is used to test the lung capacity.

“We must always take the symptoms of fatigue seriously, even if we cannot determine any organic causes in this patient group”, emphasises Dettmers. He believes that there could be many psychosocial causes for the exhaustion following an infection, which is also triggered by media coverage: “If the condition is down to organic causes, as is the case with MS, it is easy to speak to patients about the cognitive and psychological symptoms, and choose a course of therapy together. The situation is much more difficult if there is no organic cause, or in the case of long COVID. Here, it is hard to convince patients that the weariness they experience could be related to other factors aside from their previous COVID infection. This would make it easier to develop a way for them to deal with perceived crises and the accompanying tiredness.”

In a holistic socio-medical approach, differentiating between fatigue and fatigability allows doctors to consider both the subjective aspects and the objective findings. “When it comes to fatigue in MS patients, it is important to clarify to them that any early fatigability does not cause neurological damage. This stops the patients from developing preventative strategies and resting to avoid expected exhaustion”, says Prof. Dr Dettmers.

Interaction of all actors

He continues: “In many cases, resting can negatively affect the recovery process. All medical specialists involved, from GPs and psychologists to therapists, need to be made aware of this syndrome. We have to develop a standardised method of diagnosis, before moving on to a personalised approach to therapy, while also taking the patient’s psychosocial background into account.”

Resources in our healthcare system are tight at present, and fatigue and long COVID are proving a challenge: “We have to convince long COVID patients that they will most likely make a full recovery, so that this group of people does not remain permanently impaired in terms of their ability to work.” This is already happening successfully in the handful of specialised long COVID outpatient departments. The goal now is to spread the knowledge and experience gained here, in order to enable effective treatment of this growing phenomenon despite scarce resources.

White cloth bags with the imprint
Prof. Dr. Christian Dettmers will speak about Long Covid and Fatigue Syndrome at the CON.THERA Therapeutic Congress. (Karlsruhe Trade Fair / Behrendt and Rausch)

The CON.THERA interdisciplinary therapy conference on 16 June 2023 will do precisely this. The full conference programme will be available in January. More information on the conference can be found .

Children’s rehabilitation aids at REHAB

What is most important for children and young people with disabilities and their families when it comes to the provision of aids? And what is the goal of care for all those involved in the interdisciplinary team? “Patient-centredness” is not only called for by the ICF* and current legislation, it also ensures the success of assistive technology provision – because only an “accepted” assistive device that has proved itself in everyday life is used, implemented and leads to greater quality of life and more participation, in addition to functional medical improvements.

Young man in walking training Xplore from Made for Movement
Image source: Made for Movement

These are the goals in the minds of the exhibitors at the Marketplace for Child and Youth Rehabilitation at the first REHAB in Karlsruhe since the beginning of the pandemic. Here at REHAB, affected persons, therapy professionals, employees from specialised trades, institutions and clinics will find innovative aids for the important areas of life “locomotion, standing and sitting”, which make everyday life easier for children and young people with disabilities. The focus is on the practical benefits and the inclusive possibilities of use.

Mobility, sitting and standing ... mastering all of life’s situations

Children and young adults with complex movement impairments, who can carry their own weight only with difficulty or not at all and who have low trunk stability, benefit from the lightweight, manoeuvrable design of the Xplore walking trainer from Made for Movement, to cite only one example. This trainer’s young users have their hands free to interact with others. The ultralight design supports independent progress and long-lasting mobility indoors and outdoors.

Locomotion even with special seating solutions becomes child’s play for caregivers and young users in the Galileo seating shell chassis from Rehatec. The important features are numerous adaptative options and a variety of accessories to meet all individual requirements.

Small and big, the PR 40 and its little brother the PR35 S in size comparison.
Image source: PARAVAN GmbH

The big manufacturers of power wheelchairs have also developed special e-models for children and young people. There are numerous variants with and without stand-up functions. The most important aspects are manoeuvrability and easy handling. Here for example, the large mobility specialist Paravan, which has many years of relevant experience, will present robust e-wheelchairs in many sizes:

The complete range of wheelchairs from PARAVAN GmbH from the PR 35/ PR 35S, specially developed for child care, to the PR 50 power wheelchair approved as a driver's seat and the premiere of the new all-rounder PR 30 wheelchair.

Rehatec user image Nele
Image source: Rehatec

Sitting correctly is the be-all and end-all for us all:

At school, in day care centres, in the family and with friends at play, highly individualised seating shells ensure that even severely impaired young people can participate. For lighter support needs, a well-adjustable therapy chair often suffices for positioning. The first attempts at sitting become much easier for very young children with “growing” integrative therapy chairs. Thanks to height adjustment with a handle, the “Nele” from Rehatec, for example, becomes a faithful companion in the kindergarten, because this chair fits even the lowest children’s tables for optimal participation.

It is essential to seek expertise from medical supply stores in the region

Regional suppliers such as the Wurster, Brillinger and Storch and Beller medical supply stores are the first point of contact for customised seating shells and personalised fittings – because every person is different and young patients must always be correctly seated, even as they grow, in order to compensate for deformities and reduce the pain and physical consequences of the disability. This always requires paediatric orthopaedic specialists who, together with therapists and the affected individuals, develop holistic fitting concepts and implement them to achieve the greatest possible quality of life. Building blocks and components of individual sitting and lying shells for people with complex disabilities will be presented at REHAB Karlsruhe by manufacturers such as RehaNorm Bingen, which already has 50 years of experience in the construction of sitting shells.

Standing is essential for all of us – especially for communication “at eye level”, but also to stimulate the metabolism and strengthen the leg muscles or the hips. Visually and therapeutically complex highlights are children’s standing trainers such as the Heidelberg lying bear Lasse or the Heidelberg standing device Benni for regaining postural stability, balance and equilibrium.

MyEcc Special control
Image source: Homebrace

Using the fascination of technology for rehabilitation

Digitisation and high-tech make aids for children and young people with disabilities particularly attractive. The special wheelchair controls MyEcc and MyEcc Pupil from Homebrace are unique worldwide. Both convert eye movements into driving commands to the wheelchair. Seat adjustments can also be easily triggered via eye movements, entirely without moving the head. The two variants – one using a communication device and the other using a specially designed headset – offer individualised care depending on the clinical situation, even for children or people with highly complex disabilities (such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy or tetraplegia), who long to maintain their self-determination despite their severe limitations.

VITA bring children, young people and adults with disabilities together with helpers on four paws.
Image source: VITA e. V.

Therapists on four paws

Assistance dogs are “aids for the heart”: VITA bring children, young people and adults with disabilities together with helpers on four paws. The work of this non-profit organisation is based on a holistic concept that shows new ways of life for people with disabilities and other illnesses. The VITA assistance dogs are practical everyday helpers for their human partners on the one hand and therapists on four paws on the other. “For us, REHAB offers a great opportunity to familiarise an interested audience with the work of our association VITA e.V. Assistenzhunde. At our stand, visitors can experience in direct conversation with our VITA teams just how enriching life with an assistance dog is for people with disabilities. We are very much looking forward to the personal sharing with guests and other exhibitors”, says Tatjana Kreidler, founder and first chairwoman of VITA e.V..

Links on the topic of medical aid supply, problem areas and legal issues:

  • *International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, October 2005

  • Action Alliance for Needs-Based Provision of Therapeutic and Medical Aids

  • Position of the Social Paediatric Society (only in german)

  • Guidelines on aids “Relevance to everyday life, ICF, individual needs”, particularly interesting starting at § 6ff.

An interview with... ANNIKA GEHRMEYER, Project Manager REHAB 2022

1. Ms Gehrmeyer, could you please briefly outline the highlights of REHAB 2022?

ANNIKA GEHRMEYER, Project Manager REHAB 2022
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - Sandra Jacques

Yes, gladly. I’ll start with our largest marketplace, Mobility and Daily Living Aids, because visitors will find a wide variety of aids there: from wheelchairs and walking aids, through orthopaedic aids and communication aids, to transfer and lifting aids and exoskeletons. Our marketplace for Child and Youth Rehabilitation includes specialised products and services as well as a broad range of advisory services for parents, professional caregivers and relatives. Specialised car converters will be on site. And guests can try out various sports under professional guidance. In addition, visitors will also find a wide range of offers from numerous self-help organisations.

New at REHAB 2022 is the joint stand of DATEurope (European Industry Association for Digital Assistive Technology) and the Peer Congress of the Fördergemeinschaft der Querschnittgelähmten e. V. (Support Association for Paraplegics – FGQ). The focus here will be on networking, consultation and sharing.

A major plus and a special added value for trade visitors will be the interdisciplinary therapists’ congress CON.THERA, which will take place in parallel with the fair for the first time. Conceived in close cooperation with the team from Lamprecht NEURO-Fobis, the congress will offer an interdisciplinary programme for therapists from all disciplines, with top-class participants and divided into five thematic blocks, with a focus on neurorehabilitation, in order to promote the interlinking of all rehabilitation professional groups involved in therapeutic care.

2. How many exhibitors do you expect this year?

For REHAB 2022, we expect around 350 exhibitors on a total of approximately 35,000 square meters of exhibition space. Although the REHAB had to leave its traditional place in the trade fair calendar due to the pandemic, 350 exhibitors have booked......somewhat less than at the last REHAB. As usual, the product range of the exhibiting companies is, as usual, exceptionally extensive. And numerous manufacturers and regional medical supply companies will be available for personal consultations and offer product tests.

3. Ms Gehrmeyer, you talk to exhibitors every day, including many manufacturers. Are there any premieres at REHAB? What innovations can you already announce today?

We expect product premieres and many further developments to be presented live at REHAB. After all, experience has shown that our biggest exhibitors are manufacturers, followed by dealers and other service providers.

In addition, many events at which products are launched live.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - Behrendt und Rausch

In addition, many events at which products are launched live and in front of large audiences have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Once again, numerous giants from the industry will be coming to Karlsruhe. These include Humanelektronik, Meyra, Paravan, Permobil and Wellspect HealthCare, which will present their latest developments in rehabilitation, orthopaedic and medical technology.

4. What feedback have you received from exhibitors and visitors regarding the current mood? What expectations do you have with regard to the upcoming fair?

On the exhibitor side, the industry is struggling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are all the more proud that REHAB 2022 will take place with nearly all regular exhibitors as well as numerous newcomers. In this respect, the trade fair will gain new significance as a new beginning and a new opportunity in times of pandemic.

Feedback from retail customers has shown us that people are longing for personal encounters.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - Behrendt und Rausch

Feedback from retail customers has shown us that people are longing for personal encounters, exchange, advice and getting to know products live at the REHAB. Aids cannot be personally adapted via a computer screen or at a distance. Encounters and personal advice are essential. Increasingly many users and their relatives want to become experts in their own fields through personal knowledge-building and sharing with the community. A trade fair like REHAB, with its wide range of products and many innovations, on-site testing opportunities and advice directly from the manufacturer, is particularly valuable here.

The feedback from trade visitors is similar: they miss the personal, interdisciplinary sharing about their professional tasks. After all, specialised dealers, therapists, doctors, funding agencies, educators and professional caregivers all work together to offer optimal mobility and quality of life to people with disabilities, thus enabling them to lead largely self-determined lives. That is why it is important for these professionals to always stay well informed and to keep themselves up to date with the latest knowledge.

5. What changes can visitors expect at REHAB with regard to Covid-19?

For the first time, REHAB will take place in three halls with generous hall and open spaces, widened aisles. There will be a beer garden in our atrium to provide opportunities for ample outdoor time and breaks.

Exhibition halls from above.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe

Our new online ticket store will not only save time on site, booking an online ticket will avoid long queues, admission will be more controlled and smoother, and buyers can look forward to discounts on advance purchases.

As of April 3, 2022, the new Corona Ordinance is in effect. Extensive protective measures will no longer apply. We still recommend wearing a protective mask indoors on the grounds of Messe Karlsruhe.

6. What are you personally looking forward to when you think about REHAB 2022?

Finally, a live trade fair again! That is my personal wish and I believe it is not mine alone. This anticipation is evident in the numerous positive feedbacks we have received. Personally, I am looking forward to face-to-face sharing with the various industry representatives and the community. I also look forward to the stories and encounters, to visitor attractions like the climbing tower and the inclusive sports programme. But I am also looking forward to new products that help people lead more independent lives and support them in their everyday lives... to shining eyes and smiling faces... and to personalities like Jürgen Dusel and Raul Krauthausen.

Thank you very much for the interview.

Our supporting programme has plenty to offer

For three days, REHAB Karlsruhe offers ample space and an inviting atmosphere for relevant sharing among professionals from the fields of rehabilitative and orthopaedic technology, caregiving and therapy, as well as interested private visitors. Once again, the trade fair will be accompanied by our supporting programme, which features numerous exciting lectures, informative discussion rounds, interactive workshops and diverse sporting activities!

The following paragraphs offer a preview of some of the highlights:

Trade fair overview REHAB 2022

Forum Hall 2

In addition to showcasing products and services, the marketplaces Cerebral & Neuro Rehab, Homecare & Nursing, Mobility & Daily Living Aids and Therapy & Practice in Hall 2 will offer interested parties a series of lectures on topics such as therapy and rehabilitation after acquired brain damage and strokes, as well as presentations of products in the field of homecare and out-of-hospital intensive care.

In Hall 2, a panel of experts will explore the timely topic of the Intensive Care and Rehabilitation Strengthening Act (IPReG) in a discussion titled “Has the law arrived in reality?” Among others, the panellists will also include Dr Paul Diesener, co-founder and board member of the Dysphagia Network Southwest e.V., who is well known in professional circles primarily for his lectures and seminars on the topics of home respiration, tracheal cannullae and swallowing disorders. The panellists will also include the lawyer Michael Helbig, who critically observes the development of legislation and jurisprudence and plays an active role in shaping them.

In addition in Hall 2 will offer interested parties a series of lectures on topics such as therapy and rehabilitation.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - Behrendt und Rausch

The prevention and treatment of pressure sores in hospitals, nursing homes and private care has been a major topic for decades. The most reliable preventive measure thus far is the time-consuming and strenuous repositioning of the affected person at individually agreed intervals. Insights into dynamic decubitus prophylaxis with an innovative lying system will be offered by Dr Markus Spalek, who will present its application and explain how the system functions.

Forum Hall 3

The programme in Hall 3 will focus on topics such as inclusion, aids, building & living and child & youth rehabilitation. Here, in addition to the official opening of the fair, Thomas Hildenbrand from the ROLLETS rehabilitation network will share his expertise on the topics of “Guidelines for the individual provision of aids” and “Device-supported standing therapy”. There will also be a practical workshop on the topic of mobility training.

The programme in Hall 3 will focus on topics such as inclusion, aids, building & living and child & youth rehabilitation.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - ®AS

How can the implementation of the promise in the coalition agreement “Strengthening the care of severely disabled children and their families” be continued? For all interested individuals, the Action Alliance for Needs-Based Provision of Therapeutic and Assistive Devices will explain its standpoint on the petition “Stop the blockade of health insurance companies in the provision of assistive devices for children with disabilities”. Everyone is invited to listen and join in the discussion.

The animal perspective will be presented in a lecture by Karl Mayer, who is a youth and home educator and a specialist in social work. With support from his animal companions, Mayer will explore the potentials and limits in a presentation titled “Fur, fin, feather: animal helpers in education and therapy”.

Inclusive sports complex – dm-arena

Sport and activity are top priorities at the Inclusive sports complex in the dm-arena, where people with and without disabilities can try out inclusive sports together and train with coaches and professionals.

Sport and activity are top priorities in the dm-arena.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - ®AS

Along with the Hessischen Behinderten- und Rehabilitations-Sportverband and the Frankfurter Inklusions- Sportverein e.V., the Badischer Behinderten- und Rehabilitationssportverband will again be present this year. Whether it’s tennis in a wheelchair, adaptive self-defence for everyone or seated volleyball, the Inclusive sports complex has plenty to offer. The inclusive sports badge will be introduced as a new get-to-know offer.

Test track and vehicle test drive

The test track for scooters, tricycles and handbikes and the vehicle test drive will enable interested individuals to thoroughly test various vehicles and cars on site.

The test track for scooters, tricycles and handbikes and the motor vehicle test track will enable interested individuals to thoroughly test various vehicles and cars on site.
Image source: Messe Karlsruhe - Behrendt und Rausch

For more information on the supporting programme in the specialised forums and the wide range of hands-on activities in the Inclusive sports complex, please visit our website:



Short distances and on-site decisions: professional caregivers are now also authorized to prescribe nursing aids for home care

At the beginning of the year, a small sensation occurred almost inconspicuously in the German system of reimbursement for medical aids. Medical professionals had previously been the sole authorities for prescribing nursing aids, but now the decision about what kinds of aids are important and necessary for patients’ daily lives has been placed in the hands of caregivers who are personally well acquainted with the patients.

The new regulation in §40 of the Social Code XI actually only reflects the lived reality of the situation, in which professional caregivers often “request” physicians to prescribe the necessary nursing aids. Now this bureaucratic step can be skipped over and caregiving can be optimized. The changed rules make it easier for the affected individuals to get the nursing aids they need.

Sven Koppelwiser from the nursing bed manufacturer Burmeier and spokesman of the WG Aids at the industry association SPECTARIS, summarises: “Legislators want people in need of care to receive suitable nursing aids for home care more quickly than before. To accomplish this, the new legislation relies on the competence of trained professional caregivers. If a caregiver sees a need for a particular nursing aid during a home visit, the medical supply store can submit the caregiver’s concrete recommendation to the funding agency in lieu of a doctor’s prescription. This saves valuable time in providing the necessary aids, while simultaneously eliminating paperwork for general practitioners and reducing unnecessary contacts.

The Health Care Expansion Act (Gesundheitsversorgungsweiterentwicklungsgesetz – GVWG) authorizes all nursing professionals with a qualification according to the Nursing Professions Act (Pflegeberufegesetz – PflBG) to make the relevant recommendations. The GKV Spitzenverband offers a standard form for this purpose, but the recommendation can also be submitted to the funding agencies “simply in written form” like an ordinary prescription.

The new rule only affects nursing aids that are missing in a patient’s home; it does not apply to aids needed for inpatient care.
Source: medigroba

The new rule only affects nursing aids that are missing in a patient’s home; it does not apply to aids needed for inpatient care. Sven Kübler from the Competenz Netzwerk Außerklinische Intensivpflege CNI e.V. (Competence Network for Out-of-Home Intensive Care) views this change as a milestone in outpatient care for an increasingly older society: “The new guideline includes numerous product groups, but the legal focus is primarily on care at home because it mostly involves aids for the bathroom and toilet, mobility, care beds, transfers and consumables. This is good and right because caregivers are often the ones who can best assess the situation in the patient’s home and the need for nursing aids there.”

A big step towards reducing bureaucracy in the aid-provision process

Another aspect is likewise unprecedented: at last, legislators have granted comprehensive powers of assessment to trained nursing professionals. Normally, prescriptions for medical aids by panel doctors can be reviewed by the Medizinischer Dienst (Medical Service) at any time at the request of the funding agencies. According to the new guideline, the medical necessity is assumed to be given with the recommendation from the nursing specialist. The Medical Service’s decision is no longer interposed. This shortens the legally permitted “processing periods” to a maximum of three weeks, thus promoting speedy assistance in acute situations.

The necessary legal changes have already taken effect, so this streamlined system can be used immediately. The definition of the professional qualifications of caregivers played a major role in the legislators’ decision. But according to people familiar with the practical day-to-day situation, awareness of this new directive has not yet reached all caregivers on site: professional associations still need to spread the word about the changed legislation. Caregivers, on the other hand, need to be well informed about products, to filter new products on the market according to the needs of their patients, and thus to be able to ensure improved care.

Together with the publishing company hw-studio weber (including the trade journals not, beatmet leben and RehaTreff) and a number of specialized exhibitors in the field of care and homecare, the CNI network will present comprehensive concepts for participation-oriented out-of-hospital intensive care at the Forum in Hall 2 at REHAB. Interdisciplinary cooperation among many professions can even enable people who need extensive assistance (ALS patients, for example) to again participate independently in professional and social life. Forum contributions, expert discussions and practical reports will explore opportunities and options for affected individuals, their relatives and caregivers.

Leading minds present the latest findings in stroke therapy at the new CON.THERA congress

Neurological rehabilitation will be the focus of the CON.THERA congress, which will be held for the first time to accompany REHAB Karlsruhe. In addition to neuromuscular diseases, CON.THERA will also highlight current or innovative therapy options for stroke patients.

Strokes are one of the most frequent causes of death and disability. On average, a person who has suffered a stroke has a twenty percent risk of having another stroke within five years.

The number of strokes is steadily increasing and their prevalence is clearly shifting towards younger age groups. Possible causes for this are increasingly unhealthy lifestyles and longer life expectancies.

A stroke is a medical emergency. If a stroke is suspected, the emergency telephone number should immediately be dialled to summon assistance. Ideally, the patient should be cared for in a stroke unit, i.e., a hospital ward designed especially for stroke patients. It is important to act quickly and in an accurately targeted manner in order to save lives, minimize aftereffects and speedily provide therapy for functional deficiencies.

The timeframe for neurological clarification and medical intervention is short.
Source: Adobe Stock#123251630

Treatment follows a standardized procedure. Rapid medical intervention is the first step. Specific determination of the loss of function and identification of the affected areas comes next. This is followed by rehabilitation based on the details of the individual case.

The timeframe for neurological clarification and medical intervention is short. It is still possible to dissolve a blood clot by intravenous lysis treatment within the first four and a half hours after a stroke; mechanical removal of the clot can be accomplished within six hours after the stroke. After this brief time window has closed, it is important to concretize the loss of function and begin appropriate rehabilitative measures.

Professor Joachim Liepert, a leader in the field of stroke rehabilitation, will be one of the speakers at the CON.THERA congress.
Source: Liepert

Professor Joachim Liepert, a leader in the field of stroke rehabilitation, will be one of the speakers at the CON.THERA congress. “A combination of clinical and structural tests enables physicians to determine which functions can be actively called up in the patient, whether an electrical impulse conducted along the neural pathways leads to a muscle response via magnetic stimulation, and which structural damage can be made visible by magnetic resonance imaging. This enables us to define the affected areas while simultaneously providing us with indications for further treatment measures,” explains the specialist in neurology and stroke rehabilitation.

As medical director of neurorehabilitation at the Schmieder Clinics in Baden-Württemberg, Professor Liepert is convinced that rehabilitation should begin as soon as possible – before deficiencies or unfavourable compensatory movements become entrenched. It is always important to find out what the patient wants so the therapeutic concept can be adapted accordingly. The goal is a return to independent living.

Depending on which areas of the brain are affected and which functions have been lost, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, neuropsychologists and masseurs may be involved in the therapy. In addition to various exercises to regain lost abilities, electrical stimulation and aids such as orthoses are also used for support. “A lot helps a lot” is a principle that is applied in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and the use of innovative therapy concepts – because the brain learns through repetition. Of course, the patient should not be overtaxed.

This guiding principle is also followed by Professor Thomas Platz, president of the DGNR (German Society for Neurorehabilitation). It is important that all of the disciplines involved are kept up to date on the current state of research, with the overarching goal of providing maximally successful care of the highest quality. This can be achieved through appropriate guidelines that make it possible to implement current findings practically and speedily.

The CON.THERA Congress offers the ideal platform for an update of all disciplines involved.

Added to the list of medical aids in December 2021: Scewo BRO
BRO in stair mode
BRO in stair mode. Photo credits Scewo AG

“Three young Swiss entrepreneurs – Thomas Gemperle, Bernhard Winter and Pascal Buholzer – have achieved their goal of creating an e-wheelchair that “combines suitability for everyday use, simple operation and cool design”. The trio took advantage of the research and support opportunities offered by ETH Zurich to create the Scewo BRO, an innovative e-wheelchair that can climb stairs.

The success story from this talent factory is a stair-climbing wheelchair, innovative in its technology and design, and Swiss-made by Scewo. Great interest was sparked by the prototype of this medical product, which evolved from a student project at ETH Zurich and the Zurich University of the Arts. Technology and software specially developed by three former ETH students enable this wheelchair to recognize the foot of a staircase, climb the stairs in reverse, and descend the stairs afterwards. The seat is automatically kept horizonal throughout the process. The inventors’ successful combination of complex technology and cool styling won them a gold medal in the category of “Excellent Product Design” at last year’s German Design Award.

The road to serial production was a long one. A sizeable amount of development capital was needed and the search for investors was challenging, but the young entrepreneurs convincingly presented their assistive vehicle. With impressive styling, excellent manoeuvrability, intuitive operation and user-friendliness, the BRO masters stairs and uneven terrain and can raise the height of its seat by as much as 87 centimetres. “This enables the user to reach the top shelves when shopping. Many assistive devices are only useable within narrow limits. They make it more difficult for people with disabilities to fulfil their desire for an individualized lifestyle. We want to change that for the better.” The assistive device upholds high standards and is manufactured primarily near Winterthur, Switzerland.

Scewo Founders
Scewo Founders. Photo credits Scewo AG

In order to survive on the German market, the start-up company applied for an aid number. The experts at the GKV-Spitzenverband were convinced that the innovative wheelchair genuinely offers medical and everyday-relevant benefits, so the GKV created a new category for this medical device: “wheelchairs with self-balancing driving principle and integrated stairway climber.” One and a half years were needed to conduct the diverse tests and testing procedures leading to certification (TÜV, CE labelling, etc.), along with the associated material testing, stability testing, requirements for mechanics, battery, etc. including weather tests in cold and heat chambers. The Scewo BRO was added to the list of assistive devices in December 2021. Natalie Rotschi, media officer at Scewo, proudly explains: “It is enormously important for us that the BRO has been classified as a full-fledged electrically powered wheelchair.” The GKV’s list of aids is not legally binding, but the specific ten-digit HMV number makes it easier to bill health insurers. Medical supply stores appreciate this convenience.

A great many people are potential users of the BRO: “Our device is ideal for all non-pedestrians, from schoolchildren to senior citizens, who want to lead independent, active lives”, Natalie Rotschi explains. “Thanks to its sensors and integrated control, the BRO maintains a stable sitting position in every position for users in weight classes from 40 to 120 kilograms. An extension for lightweight or particularly heavy users is also planned. This enables us to offer many people with disabilities a viable perspective towards greater independence.”

The chassis is standardised, so individual adjustment is achieved via the seat. The electrically powered wheelchair is currently controlled by a joystick in the armrest and can be linked to a smartphone to save the user’s personal settings.

BRO in drive mode
BRO in crawler mode. Photo credits Scewo AG

The Scewo BRO is genuinely reliable. Climbing stairs in a restaurant is no problem now! The wheelchair is slim enough to pass through normally wide doors. An integrated app controls the rear-view camera to enhance safety. To facilitate transporting the wheelchair by car, the Scewo BRO can be folded in and out via remote control. A stable parking position allows it to be used on public transport. This is how compensation of a disability, access to one’s personal environment and genuine participation can be achieved!

The young entrepreneurs are proud of the “Swiss-made” label. “We want to drive the further development of our product ourselves – that’s why proximity to users and suppliers is important to us.”

In the meantime, the Scewo BRO is now in serial production. With a current total of 40 employees in Winterthur and with production in Stein am Rhein, the young team is growing steadily. This innovative mobility aid will be presented to a broad audience – live, to touch, marvel at and try out – at the Mobility and Everyday Aids Marketplace in Hall 2 at the next REHAB trade fair.

REHAB scores points with “Peer Event” of the Fördergemeinschaft Querschnittgelähmten in Deutschland e.V. (Support Association for Paraplegics in Germany) (FGQ)

“The English word ‘peers’ denotes a group of people with common interests, similar age, similar social status or similar background.” So-called “peer counselling”, i.e. the counselling of affected persons by other affected persons, is one of the central concerns of the Fördergemeinschaft der Querschnittgelähmten in Deutschland e. V. (FGQ).

Especially in the first months after the onset of paraplegia, the affected individuals and their relatives usually lack perspectives on how to continue. This is where the FGQ’s help comes in. Experienced paraplegics can credibly demonstrate that a good life and a viable future are indeed possible for paraplegics

Kevin Schultes, volunteer board member of the FGQ
Kevin Schultes, volunteer board member of the FGQ. Picture credits: private

Approximately 150 voluntary FGQ peers are committed to providing this kind of direct help for paraplegics throughout Germany. The principal causes of paraplegia have shifted considerably in the wake of demographic changes. “In the past, it was often the classic motorcycle accident, which left young men with lifelong damage to their spinal cords. Today, more than 50 per cent of the causes of paraplegia are disease-related”, summarises Kevin Schultes, voluntary member of the board of the FGQ. “In addition to tumours that metastasise to the spinal cord, other disease-related causes include inflammations or infarctions in the spinal cord, herniated discs, and degenerative diseases that lead to paraplegia, especially in old age. The tasks for our association are changing accordingly.” The 53-year-old, who has been a paraplegic for the past 26 years, works as a management consultant in medical technology, so he is quite familiar with the industry and its clientele.

“Specialised centres treat about 2,500 new paraplegics each year. In total, we are talking about nearly 140,000 people with paraplegia in Germany.” To assist this large group of affected people, an association was founded 40 years ago by committed paraplegics and staff members of spinal-paralysis centres. The supportive association, which combines specialised expertise and self-help for affected individuals, has been present at REHAB from the very beginning and is a permanent feature at the fair, which the FGQ uses as a forum for disseminating information, networking with therapists, doctors and manufacturers of aids, and above all for sharing know-how with affected individuals and their relatives. In the meantime, the FGQ has a full-time management – also thanks to the support of the Manfred Sauer Foundation – and is professionally positioned to administrate all necessary tasks for its 4,000 members.

Approximately 150 volunteer peers from the FGQ are committed to providing direct help for people with spinal paralysis throughout Germany.
Approximately 150 volunteer peers from the FGQ are committed to providing direct help for people with spinal paralysis throughout Germany. Picture credits: FGQ, photo of Schultes (privately owned)

Approximately 30 peers from Karlsruhe and its surrounding area are expected to participate in the support association’s “REHAB Peer Event” on Saturday, 25 June 2022, where they will talk shop and share their ideas and experiences. The volunteer peer counsellors undergo extensive training and further education; the FGQ has hired a peer coordinator especially for this purpose. In several weekend courses, prospective peers are trained and accompanied in their personal coping with paraplegia. They also learn many basics of social law so they can better support clients with recent paraplegia in issues such as the provision of aids, adaptation of living space, work integration, etc.

In the past, it was mainly prominent para-athletes or otherwise famous people with spinal paralysis who were seen as peer role models. In the meantime, however, peers are more often ordinary women and men who live and work in normal families, professions and constellations. This is the best and most credible way to provide counselling at eye level. “Of course, a world-famous wheelchair skater like David Lebuser, who supports us as a peer, is an attractive role model for young affected persons, but we are more likely to reach the father of a family or a mature woman through peer counsellors from the affected person’s own age group and with comparable life circumstances”, Kevin Schultes summarises the results from 40 years of the FGQ’s work.

Further information can be found online at www.fgq.de and www.der-querschnitt.de.

Expert information on the topic of paraplegia is provided by the member magazine PARAplegiker. https://www.fgq.de/news/der-paraplegiker/

So-called “peer counselling”, i.e. the counselling of affected persons by other affected persons, is one of the central concerns of the Fördergemeinschaft der Querschnittgelähmten in Deutschland e. V. (Support Association of Paraplegics in Germany). (FGQ). Picture credits: FGQ
Crowdfunding for an inclusive hidden object book

There are many sides to digitization, and some are truly fantastic. A young creative troupe from Berlin wants to create a high-quality inclusive Wimmel book and really depict "diversity. To do this, it is breaking new ground and launched a crowdfunding project in which anyone can buy "into the book" with a certain contribution, or enable other people to be depicted in the book.

An inclusive hidden object book for you, for me, for us!
An inclusive hidden object book for you, for me, for us! Photo credit: Startnext

The goal of the creatives: They want many different people, but especially those who are otherwise hardly or not at all depicted in the media, to be visible in this book. Especially for children it is important to be there, to see themselves and others as a natural part of society.

This hidden object book should contribute to depicting everyday, mostly unseen realities of life, to change viewing habits and to do so with humor and many little everyday stories.

Further information: https://www.startnext.com/stadtgewimmel-inklusiv

Cynteract: a start-up company from Aachen wins innovation awards for its digital health ideas and creativity
Startup Company Cynteract
It didn't stop at the start-up company: the young entrepreneurs founded Autak e.V., a crowdfunded association that is already working on other projects. (Photo credit: via Autak e.V.)

“It began a bit like Apple with us”, smiles Gernot Sümmermann, co-founder of the start-up company Cynteract. This 24-year-old student of mechanical engineering had already won nine prizes when he participated in “Jugend forscht” as a teenager in 2014.

“It was only logical and consistent to found a start-up company in 2016 together with my housemate Manuel Wessely (25), who studies computer science. RWTH Aachen University supported us with start-up advice. We have become active in various projects with many freelancers in the meantime, but the two of us continue to comprise the core team”, Sümmermann explains.

The idea for a training glove was born when a friend suffered a stroke. He had to struggle with boring and time-consuming therapeutic exercises during his rehabilitation, so he soon stopped exercising at home. This led to deterioration of his hand functions. A solution was needed.

After more than eight years of hard work, the training glove is now being serially manufactured. It can be conveniently delivered by post; the associated software components for training are easy to use with a subscription app. The rehab glove can be connected to almost any PC or tablet and is now being used in numerous clinics and medical practices. The Cynteract team was recently awarded the NRW Special Prize for Digital Health Applications.

And that’s not all. During joint undertakings, Gernot Sümmermann noticed how severely wheelchair users are hindered by structural barriers. This situation gave him no peace of mind so he set out to explore his hometown in a wheelchair. He discovered that the most challenging obstacles were stairs and steps on buildings and in local transport, which also hinder parents with prams and senior citizens with walkers.

The Cynteract team didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but they transformed it into a star-shaped ratchet that could be used in the prototype of a stair-climbing wheelchair. The same principle can also be applied to prams. The creative team now occupies a bungalow that provides space for a small office and workshop. They have also founded the Autak e.V. association, which will rely on crowdfunding to finance the further development of the stair-climbing wheelchair. Here too, colleagues have been brought on board and the team’s innovative ideas are receiving support from renowned companies and associations.

In addition to having an inquiring mind, Gernot Sümmermann also motivated by a social vision. He wants establish a limited liability company in responsible ownership (i.e. without external control) for the sustainable and affordable production of aids for handicapped people. The users’ costs for the stair-climbing wheelchair should not exceed 4,000 euros. This student from Aachen is also striving to assure that expenditures for his rehab aids will be eligible for reimbursement. The entire wheelchair is intended to be an open-source project so similar wheelchairs can be constructed by anyone who follows the “open plans”, which will be freely available on the internet.

A shortage of ideas? Absolutely not! A learning platform and events for interested parties are the latest projects designed to raise awareness of the needs of people with mobility impairments. Cynteract’s agenda also foresees an app to assist visually impaired users of local public transport.

Gernot Sümmermann and Manuel Wessely will be presenting their assistive technology inventions in the “Future Pavilion” start-up marketplace at REHAB 2022, where they will be looking for contacts with users, manufacturers of assistive technology and potential sources of funding (Hall 2).

Further information about the start-up company can be found online at https://cynteract.com. Information about the “Inklusion durch Innovation” association is available at www.autak.org.

DATEurope: the concept of European unity also counts in the provision of aids and appliances
Startup Company Cynteract
Interview date: From left to right: Gamal Halaga, Board Member DATEurope, Christoph Jo Müller,Co-President & Co-Founder bei DATEurope, Christiana Hennemann, CEO rehaKIND e.V.

DATEurope (the Digital Assistive Technology Industry Association) was founded in 2021 as a new European industry umbrella association that will present itself at REHAB 2022 for the first time.

“Why do we need a new European association for digital assistive technologies?” That is the question we posed to two of DATEurope’s board members. Both men have also been involved for many years in the German Federal Association of Electronic Assistive Technology BEH.

Co-President Christoph Jo Müller, who represented various companies in the German and international assistive technology market for over 30 years, feels that it is important to achieve greater visibility for European technology. He is convinced that tremendous innovative power currently lies dormant in Europe: “When it comes to digital developments, everyone immediately thinks of the USA. This not only has to do with well-known corporations. Even in our comparatively small aids sector, the perception of technology is American.”

His colleague Gamal Halaga adds: “That’s why we are quite proud to have immediately attracted 45 European members from 19 countries to join DATEurope. They include manufacturers and service providers, as well as distributors of digital assistance solutions ranging from eye control through communication to complex environment-control systems.” Canadian-born Gamal Halaga sees a lack of “European self-confidence” as one issue to be overcome: umpteen different languages surely make it more difficult for the European aids sector to present itself as a single coherent industry. Halaga has been active in Germany for over 25 years with his consulting and supply company Rehamedia and has always been present as an exhibitor at REHAB in Karlsruhe.

The planned joint stand for Digital Assistive Technology in Hall 3 brings together hardware and software, electronics experts, as well as therapists from various disciplines. They will be available there to advise and inform visitors on all questions relating to digital assistive technology. The event will feature technology to touch, try out and marvel at, along with opportunities for shoptalk with users of these technologies.

The joint stand will serve as a meeting point for all interested parties from users to cost bearers. Visitors can benefit from knowledge transfer with the various companies. This also ensures neutrality. “There’s no need to repeat mistakes that have been made internationally. We in Europe have to find our own way toward a more inclusive society”, Christoph Jo Müller sums up. His fellow board member Gamal Halaga adds: “Digitalisation’s great potential to increase quality of life and enhance inclusion is not yet widely known in Europe and is seldom exploited here.”

DATEurope presents digital assistance technology at REHAB 2022 (photo credit: CSS).

For example, digital assistive technology concepts can make access to education available even for severely impaired individuals. But research and development require financial support. The results not only benefit people with disabilities, but all fellow citizens who need assistance in specific areas of life due to age, other barriers or illnesses.

DATEurope has agreed to use English as its common technical language, but each member of this umbrella association can also be contacted in his or her national language. More information is available at www.dateurope.com and at the Bundesfachverband Elektronische Hilfsmittel www.beh-verband.de.

Jürgen Dusel takes over the patronage for REHAB again

For the REHAB 2022 Jürgen Dusel has confirmed the assumption of the patronage. The recently reappointed Federal Government Commissioner for the Interests of People with Disabilities plans to open the trade fair with a personal greeting on site.

Participation and accessibility

Jürgen Dusel at REHAB, Messe Karlsruhe / Behrendt und Rausch
Jürgen Dusel at REHAB, Messe Karlsruhe / Behrendt und Rausch

"I am very much looking forward to the further work, because there is still a lot to do," Dusel explains in a press release from the federal government on his renewed appointment. According to Dusel, the coalition agreement is encouraging. There is a lot of inclusion and accessibility in it. He is very pleased that he can continue his work, because there is still much to do. In his upcoming legislative period, he said, he wants to focus on the issues of equal participation in working life, strengthening families with severely disabled children, and breaking down barriers in the areas of housing, mobility and health.

About a month after the new red-green-yellow federal government took office, the federal cabinet decided to reappoint Dusel to the post. He had already held the office since 2018.

Wheelchair accessories of REHAB Innovations Centre ONLINE
Empulse F55
Empulse F55

P+L Innovations presents Trivida, the world’s first wheel that enables maximum accessibility and the user’s change of position out of and into the wheelchair. By removing the upper segment of the wheel, lateral transfer from the wheelchair to an external seating surface and vice versa are possible. This significantly reduces the physical strain on patients, their relatives and caregivers. The new Empulse F55 wheelchair hoist from Sunrise Medica combines high performance and a pleasurable ride. The angle and height are continuously adjustable so weight to be shifted onto the front wheel, thus increasing traction and manoeuvrability. The traction device is compatible with many rigid-frame and foldable wheelchairs, thus reducing the burden on the joints of the arms and shoulders.


The e-motion DuoDrive from the Alber company enables wheelchair users to cover longer distances without having to manually push the hand rim. In addition to the familiar residual power assistance, the wireless control unit can also activate and control a permanent driving function as a second operating mode. Similar to cruise control, the wheelchair maintains its speed – even on upgrades as steep as 10%. This means that the wheelchair has two drive modes, which the user can switch between whenever desired or required. Tetra Equipment likewise presents an innovative product: the Loopwheel for wheelchairs. These shock-absorbent wheels have carbon springs and specially developed hubs to absorb vibrations and shocks, thus making it easier for the wheelchair to overcome thresholds, uneven surfaces and kerbs, while simultaneously reducing pain, spasticity and fatigue for users and their aides.

Automotive solutions of REHAB Innovations Centre ONLINE
VW Caddy Maxi
VW Caddy Maxi

MobiTEC presents its new VW Caddy Maxi in REHAB’S ONLINE Innovations Centre. This lowered vehicle integrates many special solutions to facilitate safe and comfortable transportation. The lowered vehicle floor and the floor pan are highlights: both are almost entirely level, with very slight inclinations of just 2° and 1.5°, respectively. Greater safety for children in road traffic is assured by HERNIK company’s new IPAI LGT child seat, which includes thorax pads and a five-point harness as standard equipment. To facilitate individual modifications, the HERNIK also offers various accessories such as an abduction wedge, seat angle adjustment, and a support and safety pad.

PARAVAN’s VW T6.1 Extended lowers the vehicle’s floor from the A-pillar to the C-pillar to provide a flexible mobility solution for self-drivers and passengers in wheelchairs. Thanks to the optimized entry height, even tall people can easily enter the vehicle’s interior. The handicapped-accessible conversions to the vehicle allow the driver’s seat and the front passenger’s seat to be interchanged so the latter can be locked into position behind the steering wheel and used as the driver’s seat.

children's aids of REHAB Innovations Centre ONLINE
Heidelberger Liegebär Lasse 2020
Heidelberger Liegebär Lasse 2020

As a manufacturer of rehabilitation aids, Rehatec presents the Heidelberger Liegebär Lasse 2020 child-standing device, which is available in various sizes. Both vertically and horizontally adjustable in height, the device can be vertically lowered all the way to the floor by means of a pneumatic spring or electric motor. The backrest board is individually adjustable as well: its angle of inclination ranges from 0° to 90°. Twenty-two different frame colours and six different covers offer the option of individualized styling. Among other highlights from its current portfolio, Schuchmann presents the “till” inclined lying board. This innovative board facilitates safe and comfortable transfers from a lying to a standing position. Various adjustment options allow individual adaptation to suit the unique shape of each child’s body. Thoracic and pelvic pads provide support and enable a stable standing position.

Volaris presents the Panthera Bambino 3 children’s wheelchair, which is suitable for children from 4 to 12 years of age. The new width adapter for the seat and the adjustable side guard can be readjusted to accommodate a growing child. Thanks to intelligent, easily removable push bars, this wheelchair can also be used without an accompanying person, thus facilitating autonomous mobility for children.

Wheelchair skating - a fascinating hobby

“Do what you want to do and go for it!!!” This crystal-clear message comes from someone who has taken a few low blows in terms of his health. Til Augustin from Chemnitz is not quite eighteen years old and has already spent “years” of his life at Leipzig University Hospital. But he says the hospital’s school is so “fab” that he’s sailing smoothly toward his Abitur (school leaving examination) two years from now. And Til has a special hobby: wheelchair skating.

German and world championships spur him on

Til first came into contact with wheelchair skating at a trade fair when he was fourteen, and his enthusiasm for this breakneck sport – at least it looks like a breakneck sport – was unstoppable. A national pro and a coach for wheelchair sports took him under their wings. “It would have been nothing without Patrick and Timon”, Til is sure. And that’s how it – and he – really became something. The three latest jewels in the crown of Til’s Wheelchair Motocross (WCMX) career are two German championships and a world championship in his young age group. HIs great role models David Lebuser and, in the USA, Aaron Fotheringham set milestones when they threw themselves and their wheelchairs into halfpipe and skate arenas.

When life gives you a wheelchair, find a skate park!

Of course, all this demands the right equipment. In addition to a helmet, back protection and pads for the arms and legs, an extremely resilient and highly customized wheelchair with special suspension is a must. Such a wheelchair is “essential for survival” for Til, who was born paralyzed from the navel downward with caudal regression syndrome and a back tumour, and has since undergone countless operations and most recently lost half his hip and a piece of his thigh bone. Donations financed his first sports wheelchair. Til’s aid supplier from Cologne works together with the Reha-Sport-Club Rhineland accordingly knows exactly what WCMX heroes need. There are about 100 such athletes of all ages in Germany. “WCMX is super inclusive”, Til says. “The new skate park in Chemnitz is almost barrier-free. Young people with and without handicaps all cavort there.”

Individually equipped aids are “essential for survival”

Til also uses his customized wheelchair in everyday life because it is the only one that is completely tailored to suit his stiff back, partly missing pelvis and corrected ribs. He recently has applied to his health insurer for a similar model in a version suitable for everyday use. “We’ll see if that goes through, but we haven’t found any other wheelchair that fits my physique like this.” An everyday wheelchair is important because although his family’s apartment is on the ground floor, it is not very spacious and stairsteps lead up to the front door.

Til’s mother Gundel Augustin supports her son in his hobby: “With eight special children, one of whom is especially special, you sometimes have to be more relaxed and simply let go. Besides, I always look fate in the face with optimism. When I trust my kids with something and let them learn from their experiences, everything usually goes well and they end up stronger afterwards.” Gundel accompanies her son to Leipzig for his many hospital stays. “That’s when my rescue chain of family and friends has to step in. I’m very grateful to them.”

This single mother is currently heading for her dream job: “I’ll be starting my new job this fall as a social pedagogue with administrative training. My task will be to coordinate the lives of refugees in our area after their initial reception here. All my talents will be needed.”

And what’s next for Til’s talent? What’s your dream, Til? He responds without missing a beat: “First, I want to get my driver’s license and then tour Europe with a converted camper van and a dog. That would be cool.” His mother has a down-to-earth dream of three weeks off, with nothing but free time for herself and her interests.

Inclusive sports facility: playing sports together at REHAB

Who knows, maybe you’ll meet Til and Gundel at REHAB? For example, at the Inclusive Sports Facility, where interested people with and without handicaps can get to know inclusive sports and try them out. In previous years, a daily program featuring wheelchair versions of rugby, fencing and basketball, as well as frisbee, inclusive field hockey and wheelsoccer, encouraged people to join in and play together. The program for the upcoming REHAB will be available in March 2022.

Information on the new law GKV-IPReG
Christiana Hennemann
Christiana Hennemann

The GKV-IPReG is a law that is intended to strengthen intensive care and rehabilitation. Applicable to statutory health insurance companies, the statute had already sparked much controversy in its formative phase. The first draft, known as RISG, was strongly criticized by relevant associations and affected individuals. It sparked such vociferous protests in front of the Bundestag that the Federal Ministry of Health changed the statute’s name and contents several times before the law ultimately took effect under the name IPReG at the end of 2020. Health Minister Spahn promised: “People who need intensive care should receive it at whatever location is best for them. Mandatory quality specifications for intensive care at private homes, in hospitals and in institutional residential facilities are intended to ensure that care is strengthened, especially for patients who are often no longer able to speak for themselves.” But affected individuals and their relatives view the situation quite differently. They are acutely concerned that self-determination will be massively curtailed. The decision as to where long-term care will be given now lies with the health insurers and the Medical Service of the Health Funds. The IPReG does not reflect the system of out-of-hospital intensive care, which was established many years ago and is supported by qualified homecare providers and nursing services to enable optimal participation and self-determined living at home. Recipients and givers of intensive care are wary of a tendency toward long-term hospitalization of patients under the pretext that nursing care is better provided in institutional facilities than in family environments.

The Federal Joint Committee (Gemeinsamer Bundesausschuss – GBA) is now tasked with drafting the implementation guideline for the IPReG. Associations of patients and professional groups are among those that have been invited to submit comments. The Interest Group for Self-determined Living (Interessengemeinschaft Selbstbestimmt Leben –ISL) writes in the conclusion of its commentary on the submitted draft guideline: “A common thread of external control and professed solicitude, coupled with a very obvious strengthening of institutional care and efficiency, runs through the guideline. Contrariwise, the affected individuals deserve to be regarded as self-determined, competent and capable people. The insured persons affected here are not objects to passively receive solicitous authoritarian treatment, but possess the right, the power and the self-determination to make their own decisions. The right of wish and choice is not only anchored in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but also in Germany’s constitution.”

Affected individuals and their relatives, experts from the fields of medicine, caregiving and medical technology, relevant associations and other activists have joined forces and formed a thinktank to develop provide constructive criticism of the IPReG. Their aim is to ensure that individual intensive care is provided in the genuine best interests of the affected individuals. The separation of care for children and adolescents as stipulated by the age limit of 18 years is extremely important for rehaKIND e.V. Families are already heavily burdened by the struggle for assistance and care options; far too few specialized caregivers are available; and since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, siblings must be looked after and taught via homeschooling. Everyone involved is at the end of their tether.

Since September 2020, expertise has been gathered in regularly scheduled Zoom meetings to inform the GBA and the Federal Ministry of Health about the realities of caregiving. These demands are also based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the German constitution, the social security laws and numerous fundamental publications.

At least one good thing has come from the IPReG: networking is progressing on personal and professional levels. New networks to ensure the individual quality of care have been formed and will continue to actively participate in shaping the legal and political framework. Two activists from the thinktank summarized their personal motivations in this regard.

The blogger and doctoral candidate in mathematics Tim Melkert views the issue quite pragmatically: “Through my work in the thinktank, I hope to have explained at least once to the members of the Federal Joint Committee (GBA) what degree of autonomy and self-determination some individuals with continuous ventilation like myself already enjoy today and how drastically our lives would be externally controlled and restricted if we were strictly subjected to the implementation guidelines specified by the GKV-IPReG.”

The journalist, care expert and activist Laura Mench likewise has her own opinion about IPREG: “As a person with a progressive disease whose perspective for the future involves invasive ventilation, I am personally affected and deeply concerned about the situation surrounding the GKV-IPReG. I am participating in the thinktank because only by working together can we influence events and contribute toward shaping the development of guidelines for implementation.”

Let us hope that the affected and concerned individuals, who are often the best experts in their own field, will be heard before the Federal Joint Committee (GBA) publishes the implementation guidelines. To help accomplish this goal, the thinktank is launching a poster campaign showing the great diversity in the people who need out-of-hospital intensive care and in the lives they lead. Many adults among them pursue productive careers and thus contribute to Germany’s gross national product.

Link to tips about the detailed essentials and participants of the thinktank: https://www.cody.care/gkv-ipreg-thinktank/

Link to the GKV-IPReG: https://www.cody.care/gkv-ipreg/

REHADAT - Database around disability, occupation and participation

“Hello! My name is Ariadne and I can support you in your search for assistive resources. However, I do not replace professional advice.” This is how the digital assistant introduces herself when she offers to navigate advice seekers through the new REHADAT Assistive Resource Finder app.

With fourteen portals, as well as numerous publications, apps and seminars, REHADAT is a central, free and impartial information service on participation and inclusion of people with disabilities. REHADAT began as a digital database of specialized literature and has grown to become a contact and collection point for everything worth knowing about disability, medicine, therapy, professional life and much more. REHADAT will have its own booth at REHAB 2022, where professional and private visitors can learn about REHADAT’s s digital information and consulting services.

REHADAT informs about more than just vocational integration

It all began in 1989, when REHADAT (which is now funded by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs) was initially only about vocational integration for people with disabilities. Mareike Decker, a consultant at REHADAT, summarizes its evolution: “We have long known that people should be viewed holistically and that work is a big part of life. But if there are difficulties in a person’s residential environment, with their access to assistance devices, with legal issues, or health and family problems, then an isolated vocational information system does not help.” As a trained occupational therapist, Decker works enthusiastically in the REHADAT team to bring together the wealth of knowledge and life-enhancing information for those affected and their professional environments in rehabilitation and vocation. Employers, for example, will find helpful information collected here about hiring people with disabilities as well as best practice examples. REHADAT’s services are barrier-free and accessible at no cost.

Assistive resources, practical examples, legal information, statistics, addresses, literature, education, research and further training: the knowledge available from REHADAT is comprehensive and, thanks to cross-linking with international institutions, it also extends far beyond Europe’s borders. For quick and accurately targeted dialogues with responsible institutions or organizations, REHADAT can respond either through a conversation with a real person or by interacting with digital Alexa, who goes by the name “Ariadne” here as she guides questioners through an extensive database of relevant knowledge.

Tips and explanatory videos on social media and YouTube

In addition to the portals, there are also easily readable, illustrated and comprehensive brochures on a wide variety of disease patterns ranging from diabetes through hearing impairment to rheumatism. REHADAT’s team collects knowledge and prepares it so that even non-medical people can readily understand it and get helpful tips. Resources for vocation and work, degree of disability and compensatory levy: many topics are explained in an ever-growing collection of videos on YouTube. Mareike Decker adds: “Sharing with users and feedback from them are extremely important to us because we want to offer practical added value for the people who consult REHADAT, many of whom are facing personally difficult and challenging circumstances. By informing people impartially and reliably, and by offering them a broad range of information, we pursue our goal of creating a basis for individual options for action.”

Link tips:

Central access: www.rehadat.de


https://www. hilfsmittelfinder.de

Brochures on the design of occupational participation for individual disease patterns (knowledge series): https://www.rehadat.de/presse-service/publikationen/

Tips on issues related to disability and occupation::



Further addresses of aid providers and central contact points:


Exhibitor and product database

Numerous companies have already decided to participate in REHAB 2022 and will present their new rehabilitation, orthopedic and medical technology products as well as innovations for care and therapy at the upcoming REHAB. Already now, the companies and their products can be found in our exhibitor and product database.

REHAB overview hall
Preliminary floorplans for download

Extended exhibition area in 3 halls

By opening the third hall, we can now accommodate your specific placement wishes better than ever before.

Would you like to take part in REHAB 2022 as an exhibitor, increase the area of your stand or change your placement? Then take a look at the preliminary floorplans and secure your preferred stand space.

REHAB site plan
How Finnish artist Jenni-Juulia turns a fragile world into art

Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo-Heimonen is a total work of art herself - her open nature and her unusual politically influenced artmaking cannot be overlooked with indifference. She combines her life and experiences with OI – also called brittle bone disease – with creativity and her artistic training at Aalto University in Helsinki to create a specific perspective. Her creative expression is rich: starting with textile art, Jenni-Julia has expanded her repertoire to include video art, sculptures, installations, and performances.

In Germany, interest in her artistic work is growing.

Growing up in a family with visual impairment (on her father's side) and osteogenesis imperfecta/ OI (on her mother's side) in the fourth generation, she lives a life of ingenious practices designed for coping with everyday life that have been passed on from generation to generation. When OI family members break a bone, for example, certain routines are adapted to the changed situation to continue everyday life as normally as possible. Living with physical limitations is normality for the family members and becomes a special way of life - even if outsiders and the physically unimpaired would like to classify this lifestyle as adaptation, extreme courage or even survival.

Projekt Chairwomen
Projekt Chairwomen

Jenni-Juulia’s intention is to change the perception of disability.

Her artistic work starts with the following questions: Why are rare diseases not protected as a part of biodiversity? Why do non-disabled people determine how we should live, what aids we should use, and thus deny us the opportunities to live out our personal lifestyles? Why is charity confused with human rights?

With her politically motivated works, she touches on a sore point and motivates the public to become involved and think. Her art is a means of communication aimed at changing the perception of disability.

She mobilises all means to this end.

Tickle the crippled
Tickle the crippled

Her creative means of expression range from textile art to video art, sculptures, and installations through to performances

With her “Wheelchair piano“ project, she uses music as an element that unites everyone, overcoming linguistic barriers in interaction between “people with features uncomfortable to behold” and the physically unimpaired.

In "Tickle the crippled", Jenni-Juulia, lying in a plexiglass bubble, invites passers-by to touch her through gloves integrated into the skin of a bubble. The differing reactions from the public reflect the differences in generations’ attitudes towards disabilities: adults are gripped by shyness, unease, and rejection whereas children can easily embrace this "unusual offer" in a playful manner. This is evidence that the way we deal with disability evolves from "normality" to "exclusion" from the influence exerted by our society during the course of our lives.

Her son's febrile illness inspired her to create a special garment, the “thermochromic fever shirt”. The colour of its fabric changes as soon as the body temperature rises above 37 degrees. The body's fight against an invading disease is thus made visible in an aesthetic way and translated into a positive process.

The “Chairwomen performance” project simulates a situation in which a pedestrian assumes the physical disability of a wheelchair user. The pedestrian is seated on chair whilst her legs have been rendered immovable with artificial extensions. The intention is to demonstrate that the surrounding environment itself or an incorrectly adjusted aid can be the reason for the disability and thereby force the person into a hopeless situation.

Even though Jenni-Juulia’s artistic work takes a critical look at the way our society deals with disability, her interpretation always has a positive touch, an aesthetic lightness, with humour and playful ideas. She always reaches out to us as onlookers and encourages us to communicate and think.

Wheelchair piano
Wheelchair piano

Read more about Jenni-Juulia at http://www.kolumbus.fi/jenni_juulia/

Find out more about OI/ osteogenesis imperfecta at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Osteogenesis imperfecta (Glasknochen) Betroffene e.V.

The future of care: outpatient treatment possible with innovative training methods from rehabilitation clinics
Balance training

On the premise that vertical gait training is mostly offered in specialised rehabilitation and therapeutic facilities and therefore provides no lasting training success or consolidation of what has been learned in a home environment, the ema treadmill was “invented” by a start-up in France. People with neurological and orthopaedic disorders are currently treated intensively in clinics and rehabilitation centres to start with. This intensity and long-term training must be assured after the acute phase too, however, if the accomplishments are to be retained over time and further developed.

Jens Kleine, head of Made for Movement Deutschland, is convinced: “In future, it will be important for a constantly growing number of patients to receive treatment at the smaller-scale, local therapy practices on an outpatient basis. This will also be reflected by the facilities that these therapy practices offer in future. The “ema” system is affordable, requires only little floor space, and is easy to use. Even a home-training version is planned for the coming year”.

Ezy Gain App per Bluetooth

The smart treadmill provides training for gait and balance – taking off up to 100 % of the load. The automatic verticalization also relieves the burden on therapists as they no longer need to physically set the patient upright. Inbuilt sensors supply analyses and feedback on patient assessment, performance, and progress whenever they are required.

The software basis is provided by the Ezy Gain app, which is connected to the treadmill via Bluetooth and offers a wide range of analytic capabilities.

The large selection of games and programmes covers exercises for specific tasks for the daily routine. A virtual-reality (VR) option enhances the training experience by employing complex tasks for improving cognitive stimulation, assuring optimum utilisation of neuroplasticity, and ensuring that a response from the “memory of movement” is provoked with all the senses.

At REHAB 2022 in Karlsruhe, Made for Movement will offer a three-part training environment for different settings: the ema treadmill system, the Innowalk Pro as a robotic movement exerciser, also for people suffering severe congenital disabilities, effects of serious accidents, and chronic muscular disorders, as well as the K-Force plates for balance training, which also enable children and young people to have fun even in small spaces using the same Ezy Gain app.

“gOT it!” – YouTube channel explains complex orthopaedic engineering and biomechanics
Thomas Wetzelsperger at the computer

Thomas Wetzelsperger sees his purpose in presenting complex interrelationships that are initially hard to understand in a way that makes them more comprehensible for colleagues in the industry and interested young people.

“The new knowledge helps us to provide superior care for our patients and to attend better to their individual needs; and that, after all, is our principal task”.

Nowadays, of course, this can obviously be achieved far more effectively by using moving images: he has been operating a private YouTube channel featuring explanatory and learning videos covering interesting topics concerning orthopaedic engineering and biomechanics since September 2020.

The young engineer does it all in his free time alongside his fulltime job at Pohlig GmbH. “I wanted to present important and interesting findings from the training in a more accessible and understandable way, for anyone interested in orthopaedic technology. Ideally, the benefit can be reaped by users, technicians, engineers, relatives, therapists, and others”, he says.

Almost 500 subscribers and meanwhile more than 14 videos are clear evidence of well-spent leisure time

The spectrum of topics ranging from physical and medical aspects of care, joint torque and ground reaction force, lower-leg orthoses, and knee protheses through to “sewing corsets”.

In entertaining animations lasting 10-20 minutes each, complex manual skills and specialist knowledge are imparted in such a way that even young professionals and interested individuals feel the urge to open up their minds more fully to what the profession involves and the multifaceted tasks of an orthopaedic and rehab technician.

Two videos with the tongue-in-cheek title “5 things I wish I’d known BEFORE the apprenticeship” make it clear to young people looking for people-centred technical careers, too, just how diverse and also underrated the profile of the profession is.

In times of a skills shortage in this industry, an important stimulus and an “open-access” offer for getting to know a job outline.

“Quality beats quantity”, which is why more topical videos, all of them self-produced, are in the pipeline and will appear eventually. After all, I’ve a got a full-time job as well, says Thomas Wetzelsperger with a grin.

Many practical, hands-on courses are being cancelled at present because the training facilities are obviously unable to permit any direct contact with patients so a YouTube channel like this comes at just the right time.

Link to the channel:

Humour as a door-opener for inclusion – cool videos from “Aktion Mensch” are beneficial

“5 situations that people without disabilities never experience” shows clearly, with a wink, how people with and without a wide variety of disabilities experience our coexistence. It brings a smile, but still induces us to pause and think: together and with interest in one another it is completely normal to be different, and that is how we can really live inclusion.

Laughter is the best medicine

Against barriers in people’s minds, too. This is the young comedian’s philosophy, and he not only makes his audience laugh, but makes them think as well: about our society, inclusion, and about how important it is to stand up for issues that are important for us.

He is only 15 years old and is already a superstar on the Internet: Carl Josef celebrated his breakthrough in the German comedy scene in 2019 with an appearance in the stand-up show “Nightwash”.

In the 6-part mini-series “The Outsider. Nothing can stop us. Except kerbs.”, working jointly with Aktion Mensch, he is now making the case for a more inclusive society. Along with many other familiar YouTubers and comedians, like Cindy Klink, Freshtorge, and Phil Laude, he shows how precious differences are in our society. True to the motto: “All different. Cool together.”

More Information

Care under pressure in Germany – 2/3 of those in need of care are looked after at home

Germany’s population is becoming overaged. The number of those in need of care is rising dramatically and there is already a shortage of care professionals: where the number of people in Germany in need of care had still been 2.3m in 2010, the federal government’s latest Care Report is assuming a figure of 3.5m in Germany 2030 and 4.5m in 2050. Dementia-type illnesses like Alzheimer are becoming more widespread and are increasing the complexity of the task of providing sufferers with adequate care. 2/3 of those requiring care are still attended to at home. The Care Report mentions the challenge of promoting and maintaining immediate family’s willingness to provide care, supporting them as needed, and strengthening the commitment of volunteers.

We asked Frau Brigitte Bührlen, chairwoman of the foundation WIR! Stiftung pflegende Angehörige e.V. about the current situation:

Brigitte Bührlen
Brigitte Bührlen, Quelle: Stiftung Pflegende

What do caregiving relatives generally have to contend with?

Caregiving relatives are not involved in political decisions that affect their strenuous daily nursing routine. We have never really reformed our traditional system, founded on 19th century family structures. Only new and professional carers have been added. Caregiving relatives have no legal right to payments or to have their say - even though they bear the brunt of the work.

What benefits are available to those in need of care and their relatives?

There are numerous “individual pots” and federal arrangements with no transparent information for those concerned. The most important ones are care allowances for home care, non-cash care benefits, burden-relief monies, care-assistance allowances, allowances for home-environment improvement measures, nursing aids and support for caregivers’ social security, partial-inpatient day and night care, short-term care, and transitional care. When a particular degree of need of care has been established, the person requiring care can obtain benefits from the nursing insurance fund. If the person is given care at home, the care allowance is paid to the person in need of care. This does not give caring relatives any legal claim to payment or transparent integration into the overall care process, however.

Are the currently available services wisely coordinated with one another and how do I obtain them?

An information brochure published by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), for example, provides details about the adopted measures and care services.

Those concerned are often completely unaware of the benefits available to them. These measures are also developed from an administrative and provider perspective. Their meaningful and practicable application is not called into question. The persons concerned must adjust to what is offered, not the other way round. Local welfare and care centres can help, but they are chronically understaffed and do not know all the existing services.

Nursing-home accommodation is often the last resort, but to take care of parents in addition to one's own occupation is often not possible and multiple burdens arising from care obligations are not sustainable in the long-term. What are the solutions?

We should completely redraft the care system. In Scandinavia, care has been declared the responsibility of the state and is funded from tax revenues. A case manager deals with the needs and organises the care. If desired and as befits their own resources, relatives can handle (sub-)areas of the care themselves against payment.

For Germany and as an initial step, I would like to see the introduction of case managers and emergency assistance that is reliably at hand when poorly coordinated nursing measures fail at short notice.

Must politics improve involvement of caregiving relatives?

Absolutely! Politicians passed care into the hands of free enterprise and self-administration on the principle of supply and demand. As soon as business interests are paramount, however, it is no longer those affected that matter, but efficiency and profit. The question of responsibility must be clarified as well: in Germany, no government protection or control mechanism exists in care matters.

Caregiving relatives as well as disabled people and those in need of care must therefore be represented in every advisory body and be able to control what the money in Germany is spent on.

What can relatives do themselves to improve the situation?

I encourage caregiving relatives to bring their interests and wishes directly into the structures of politics. We are a large and relevant group of the population and must network better.

The end of assumption of approval! - Federal Social Court of Germany backpedals at patients’ expense
The right of patients

Part of the legislator’s intention behind the Patient Rights Act at the beginning of 2013 was the noble objective of compelling statutory health insurance providers to make decisions more quickly. Since then, they must take decisions on applications within 3 weeks or 5 weeks (after obtaining an expert report). If this deadline is missed, the so-called “assumption of approval” comes into effect. The service is then deemed to have been approved as applied for.

A comparable arrangement was adopted for all rehabilitation insurers in the Federal Participation Act (BTHG) as well as in volume nine of the German Social Security Code (SGB IX), the law on rehabilitation and participation of people with disabilities.

prompt care of children

Particularly where children and adolescents are involved, the time that elapses between application for a technical aid and its delivery is extremely important. Children and adolescents are still growing, continuing their development, and therefore require prompt provision for each one’s specific needs appropriate for their age.

What has happened now?

For years, the Federal Social Court of Germany (BSG) has acknowledged this to the benefit of the patient, regardless of whether or not patients have procured the service applied for, e.g. the required technical aid, themselves or the statutory health insurance providers had to be obligated to provide the benefit in kind.

Unnecessarily, and at the expense of patients, the BSG abandoned this positive jurisdiction in its rulings on 26.05.2020 (B 1 KR 9/18 R) and 18.06.2020 (B3 KR 13/19 R). The assumption of approval now only creates a provisional legal position. In simplified terms, this means the patients’ option of procuring the required aid themselves ends as soon as the statutory health insurance provider makes a decision, even if the deadline has passed.

Rapid independent procurement at own expense impossible for families

Jörg Hackstein, chairman of rehaKIND
Jörg Hackstein, chairman of rehaKIND

Based on the example of the provision of technical aids, lawyer Jörg Hackstein, chairman of rehaKIND, explains: “In order to use the assumption of approval, patients must now obtain a technical aid quickly at their own expense in the period between the expiry of the deadline and the belated decision of the statutory health insurance company, in other words, at their own risk and with up-front financing. The entitlement to benefits in kind, i.e. procurement by the patient and the insurance company must pay afterwards, no longer applies. In some cases, it takes a lengthy opposition and appeal procedure to establish whether the purchase was justified.

It can be assumed that only a few families will be willing and financially able to take on this financial risk. The BSG has thus significantly undermined patients’ rights. If the legislator continues to have an interest in strengthening patients' rights and in particular in quick decisions by the statutory health insurance providers, it must effectively sanction the funding agencies' non-adherence to decision deadlines to the benefit of patients and assure this above all for claims for benefits in kind. Very few patients can afford to obtain services themselves at their own risk.”

Jörg Hackstein, lawyer and specialist solicitor for procurement law

Here you can inform yourself about the marketplace Child and Youth Rehabilitation at REHAB:

Child and Youth Rehabilitation

And visit the REHAB:

Inclusive education between light and shadow – the latest Bertelsmann study takes stock after ten years of inclusion

The implementation was discussed both euphorically and critically in public. Time to take stock and venture an outlook:

The Bertelsmann study published in June 2020 provides no evidence to back up claims that society perceives inclusion as failed. It is true, however, that the growth of inclusion is only making sluggish headway.

Special schools remain: the number of pupils taught in schools for children with learning difficulties is constant nationwide but varies from one German state to another. The number of inclusive pupils is rising as more special educational needs are being identified. High-performing children tend to receive inclusive schooling, which depends on the need for support.

Assessments depend on personal experience

Inclusive lessons at general education schools

The majority of the population is in favour of inclusion, seeing it as promoting greater tolerance, greater social cohesion, and improved coexistence.

The opinion of parents is also good overall. Parents with experience of inclusion give a more positive assessment than those with no specific experience of it. The generally positive perception, however, depends on the nature of the special needs. Parents with experience of inclusion attest to a greater readiness for cooperation amongst teaching staff, better collaboration between parents and teachers, and a more positive relationship between teachers and pupils.

There are proven learning successes in inclusive lessons: more pupils pass the “Hauptschulabschluss” (basic secondary school qualification in Germany) in mainstream schools than those in special schools do. The alignment that inclusive pupils with special needs seek when learning amongst their peers with normal abilities has the effect of enhancing their performance. The motivation of some pupils with special needs, however, declines when faced with the performance of their classmates with unimpaired abilities.

Teaching staff are considerably more critical: all teachers want an additional colleague in inclusive lessons and the majority of them complain about inadequate know-how and missing equipment in schools. Teachers supervising inclusive classes are significantly more positive in their judgment than those without experience are.

According to the study, inclusion cannot be regarded as a failure – the general public and teachers have a mostly negative impression whereas the majority of parents and pupils with experience of inclusion are positive to very positive in their feedback.

Joint painting between inclusion students and normally enabled classmates

Germany is still a long way from reaching its objective: the existing shortage of qualified staff, particularly qualified special-needs teachers, psychologists, and teachers in all areas outside Germany’s upper secondary-school (“Gymnasium”) system, will continue to escalate. Some federal states are making progress with inclusion whereas others are choosing to backpedal. The latest forecasts for the individual German states therefore give grounds to expect stagnation in the implementation of collective learning until 2030.

Information about inclusive sports complex at REHAB can be found:

Inclusive sports complex

And visit the REHAB:

Artificial intelligence in healthcare: Karlsruhe’s IT competence ensures safe applications
Artificial intelligence

AI-based assistance systems help early identification of illnesses, enable rapid analysis of large volumes of image and laboratory data, and offer the opportunity for individualised therapies.

Prof. Jörn Müller-Quade
Prof. Jörn Müller-Quade

Prof. Jörn Müller-Quade of the KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology addresses the issue of better healthcare with the aid of AI and the ensuing challenges for IT security: “Health records are a huge treasure trove that must be learned from ... this is important, particularly in these time of a global pandemic, in order to recognise patterns and develop strategies. The bigger the volumes of data are, the greater are the insights gained from them. The challenge is to use the confidential, personal data and at the same time evaluate it without infringing privacy.”

Due to interprofessional collaboration in medicine, therapy, and care along with the involvement of other players in the healthcare sector, many people require potential access to patients’ records. “This makes it difficult to protect sensitive heath data from unauthorised access”, says the Karlsruhe cryptographer. “Information technology is a facilitator, but only with a very strict rulebook and multiple levels of security for safe data transmission and access control.” The Federal Ministry of Health is currently preparing the foundations for the electronic prescription and electronic patient file (ePA), “but if the terminal devices, i.e. the PCs of chemists, health insurance companies, and medical professionals, are not secure, we will be faced with problems that could lead to data scandals”, says Müller-Quade, who heads the cryptography and security research group at the KIT and is the initiator of the KASTEL centre of competence for IT security.

Learning systems must be monitored by people

Sensitive Data

In addition to manufacturers’ liability, he also considers certification of AI systems and databases in medicine as well as the electronic patient file to be an essential requirement. “Health records must not be permitted to be used to the detriment of patients, for example where someone could be refused employment due to the disclosure of pre-existing medical conditions.”

The planned introduction of the ePA will give patients full control over their health records, which are then stored on their own PC as well. This makes it all the more important to adhere to the basic principles of IT security – to always use the latest operating system and secure passwords –, otherwise the PC can become an open gateway for intruders and reveal a patient’s medical history.

The computer scientist sees the use of constantly-learning AI systems whose software changes when operating without human surveillance as “a mixed blessing. The decisions taken by an AI system of this kind must always be checked for plausibility by the people performing the treatment. “Doctors must not apply the suggested result without reflection.”

Further information on AI in medicine can also be found in the following whitepaper with a cancer patient as an example:


More information about this and other topics at REHAB can be found:

And visit the REHAB:

One year until REHAB - 21st European trade fair for rehabilitation, therapy, care and inclusion
REHAB 2019 Hall 1

One year before REHAB 2021 opens its gates, the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic affect the health and medical technology industry. In order to enable all market participants, exhibitors and visitors to be safe at REHAB 2021, concepts for the adequate implementation of safety measures and hygiene regulations are being providently prepared.

Approximately half of the available exhibition area has already been booked. Months in advance of the upcoming fair, numerous well-known manufacturers, dealers and service providers from Germany and other European countries have reserved their stands in Karlsruhe and thus in Baden-Württemberg, which is Germany’s leading state for medical technology. Returning exhibitors include industry giants such as Otto Bock HealthCare Deutschland GmbH, Paravan GmbH and the Danish company Alu Rehab ApS. Manufacturers of children’s wheelchairs such as Rehatec Dieter Frank GmbH, SORG Rollstuhltechnik GmbH + Co KG and Berollka-aktiv Rollstuhltechnik GmbH have likewise confirmed their intention to participate in REHAB, which is held every two years and is the most important platform for high-quality mobility aids and children’s aids from Germany and other European countries. “The high quality of this trade fair and its visitors convince manufacturers and retailers alike. In 2019, REHAB had approximately 18,500 visitors and 468 exhibitors on 40,000 square meters. We continue to place great importance on optimal distribution of exhibitors in the halls and on the fair’s unique atmosphere”, explains REHAB’s Project Manager Annika Gehrmeyer.

The proven concept of theme-oriented marketplaces such as “Mobility & Daily Living Aids”, “Child & Youth Rehabilitation” and “Cars & Traffic” will continue to structure the comprehensive range of products and services presented at the important trade fair and promote interdisciplinary sharing among experts from the care-giving sector, the health industry, people with disabilities and their carers. In addition to innovations in the assistive aids industry, REHAB provides information about new therapeutic options and offers a diverse supporting program with opportunities for further training, lectures and live demonstrations. A special area on the subject of ambient assisted living (AAL) presents technologies and digital assistance systems for independent living and living in the home and care environment. Interested companies can still book stand space at the early-bird rate until 30 June 2020. The Future Pavilion offers opportunities for start-ups and academic institutions to present their innovations, above all in the areas of digitization and robotics.

AAL, telemonitoring and digital consultation hours – how digitalisation is gathering pace in the industry
Instruction via video chat

Prohibited contact, infection risks, and inadequate protective equipment are a major obstacle to attending to patients’ needs in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Both the legislator and the professional associations are temporarily relaxing the conditions for digital consultation hours and care administered by service providers for the duration of the bans on contact.

What are the options?

The use of technical AAL (ambient assisted living) systems in the home environment and in care offers considerable potential for relieving some of the load on care staff and relatives and enabling those in need of assistance to retain as much independence as possible. The “Pflege-Cockpit” (“Care-Cockpit”) app of the Thomashilfen company, for example, provides the means for calling up information about bedridden patients. A decubitus guide-app for caregiving relatives can help with bedsore prevention whereas a patient’s own medication can be checked and controlled with the help of the PApp of RWTH Aachen.

Clinics, SPCs (sociopaediatric centres) and other medical facilities are currently upgrading their operations: general consultation, anamnesis, weekly progress meetings and interdisciplinary consultation hours are possible via telephone or video conference. Mobile monitoring devices and the digital patient file ensure the exchange of treatment documents, prescriptions, X-ray images and the like.

App-based exercise programmes with professional guidance make continuous training possible in the fields of ergotherapy, speech therapy, and rehab-sport: Thieme Tele Care, for example, offers sensor and app-controlled back-strengthening exercises for people with back problems. The Bauerfeind company uses a therapy app for customised exercises with the use of knee bandages. Many other apps in the health and therapy sector can also be found in the Rehadat database. Telephone contact with patients provides further support for therapy already underway.

Medical supply stores use digital platforms for documenting healthcare processes (e.g. BEB or ICF-CY Web app). Subsequent supply runs for consuming specific aids are currently possible without a signature after prescription by telephone as well. Telephone contact to customers or video conferences help to check supplies or to enable instructions to be given online. Apps also offer guidance and information on how to use various aids: they help diabetics, for example, to manage the data of their blood glucose meter or – like Ottobock’s Cockpit app – enable independent prosthetics adjustment. YouTube videos and livechats on how to use daily-living aids such as those by the company Saljol are also useful digital helpers.

Digital technologies are optimising the work processes in crafting too. In the form of 3D printing, digitalisation has arrived in assistive-device fabrication. Digital micromotion studies and scans serve as a basis for treatment.

The problems with data protection and the means for invoicing digitally rendered services have not been satisfactorily clarified yet.

Many service providers are walking the path nonetheless and are investing in the future. User-friendly communication systems, secure means of transmitting patient data, and reliable interfaces between the people involved are necessary parameters for acceptance and successful implementation.

You can also find more information about AAL on the pages:

Plan your visit to REHAB 2021 now

 Arrival of a new tool – the digital workshop for orthotics and prosthetics
Presentation of the digital workflows for Orthetik of the company Mecuris
Presentation of the digital workflows for Orthetik of the company Mecuris

Orthopaedic technicians are often inventors who want to be part of the development process and give the highest possible degree of personal attention to the customer’s needs: growing competition coupled with rising pressure from costs and constraints on time frequently make it difficult to assure this measure of individuality. At the same time, knowledgeable users insist on tailored solutions to suit their own tastes, no longer willing to hide his/her prosthesis from view, for example, and set on fostering a more self-confident relationship with their particular aid.

The fast-paced development in industrial 3D printing and digitalisation now offer new solutions that enable every orthopaedic technician to perform customised and yet digital fabrication. The Munich-based medical engineering company Mecuris, for example, presented a form of “digital workbench”, which meaningfully enhances the work of a technician. The intuitive design enables this digital tool to be used with no previous experience of 3D technology. To achieve this, Mecuris, as a service provider, translates the traditional orthopaedic craft into digital workflows and patient-specific products that can be manufactured using industrial 3D printing.

On its online platform, the company puts these workflows at the disposal of the technician so that he/she can configure customised orthotics and prosthetics. In doing so, the individual steps are kept as straightforward as possible and are partly automated in some areas. This platform is organised into two production units or workshops, one for orthotics and one for prosthetics.

In the orthotics workshop – new since April 2020 – a technician can use the digital procedures and tools according to his/her requirements either in partial steps or as a complete process. The latter ends with the production of a customised 3D-printed orthosis.

In the prosthetics workshop, on the other hand, workshops are available for creating patient-specific prosthetic feet and made-to-measure prosthetics covers.

The individual modules of the digital services – the software solutions, the printing operation, and the certified final products – are constantly being refined as well as adjusted to suit the changing market circumstances, such as the EU Medical Device Regulation.

Are you interested in the topic of orthopaedic aids? Then take a look at our topic area for this:

Marketplace Mobility & Daily Living Aids

And visit the REHAB:

Neurological research into paraplegia – Insights from Heidelberg University Hospital exclusively for REHAB conference delegates

“Here at Heidelberg University Hospital, we take research into paraplegia very seriously. Unfortunately, many of our major projects that relied on international funding were paused or even went backwards during the pandemic”, rues Professor Rüdiger Rupp from Heidelberg University Hospital.

“Nevertheless, the latest studies give us hope that stimulation implants in the spinal cord will be able to improve certain functions in future. Brain-computer interfaces can be used to intuitively control neuroprostheses or robot arms for paraplegic patients with severely injured spinal cords. But it can take a very long time for highly advanced technology like this to reach patients”, continues Rupp.

His research laboratory for assistive neurotechnology is located right next to the hospital’s paraplegic clinic. “This allows the results of our research to flow into patient treatment quickly. We can measure and observe how living aids and neuro-orthoses help patients. This is extremely important, as these tests are the only way for us to find out whether these devices only work in laboratory conditions and are too complex to be suitable in everyday life.”

Paraplegiology research area

Rupp is a qualified engineer from Karlsruhe who founded his own research area at Heidelberg’s renowned Spinal Cord Injury Center 27 years ago. In this time, the patients undergoing treatment have changed greatly, with the average age now over 60. This is because, instead of the typical motorcycle or bathroom accidents among young men, it is neurological and orthopaedic diagnoses like inflammatory and degenerative spinal cord conditions or tumours that are now the most frequent causes of paraplegia.

Professor Rüdiger Rupp can be seen in the profile picture. He wears dark glasses, smiles looking at the camera, wears a blue tie with red and white stripes, a light blue shirt and a dark blue jacket.
Professor Rüdiger Rupp has been researching the topic of paraplegia at the University of Heidelberg for a long time.

Patients who suffer paralyses like these that are not the result of accidents often have some degree of function remaining. As with able-bodied people, it is possible to improve and train these functions with repeated motions and targeted exercises. In the early phase in particular, patients require support when performing these movements. It is here that robotic training devices like the Lokomat or exoskeleton are used to relieve therapists. Treatment outcomes can be significantly improved with the support of innovative electrical stimulation systems, some of which can be implanted in a patient’s body.

"No risk, no fun"

Professor Rupp explains: “Each person and each spinal cord injury needs to be treated on an individual basis. Patients spend much less time here at the clinic than in the past, which gives us much less time to prepare them to live autonomously at home. This calls for a lot of self-motivation. The peer programmes at Germany’s Paraplegic Support Association (FGQ) are of great help here. This is a community of people who have lived with paraplegia for many years and have plenty of useful tips for returning to everyday life, family and work.” For many years, Rupp has been active on the board of the German Paraplegia Association, which supports the work of the FGQ with its “No risk, no fun” prevention campaign.

The advances in assistive technology are already having a positive effect. Smart gloves that use external electrodes to activate paralysed muscles can help patients eat and drink independently again. Some people with severe paraplegia are able to consciously control the motions and grasping actions of a robot arm. To do so, however, they have to mentally break the desired movement down into partial steps and perform one step after the other. Eye trackers fitted in special glasses can execute these actions much faster and more intuitively, so patients can move the arm or wheelchair in the desired direction. But this technology is not entirely unsusceptible to errors and is not suitable for every patient in everyday life.

Marketplace at REHAB 2023

Even if the miracle of being able to heal spinal cord damage remains a distant prospect, the broad range of customised aids, digital solutions and virtual reality applications gives reason for optimism in therapy and everyday life for patients. At REHAB 2023, users will find ideas and contacts at the Mobility & Daily Living Aids and Cerebral & Neurological Rehabilitation marketplaces, as well as at the joint stand of DATEurope, the European industry association for digital assistive technology.

Annika Gehrmeyer, who leads the REHAB project, is pleased with the focus on neurotechnology at REHAB 2023 and the CON.THERA conference: “We see at trade fairs all over the world how the latest developments, improvements and innovations are reaching the people who need and use them faster and faster. It is becoming increasingly important to discover new technologies, try them out and share experiences of premium living aids.”

Hand-arm use has top priority

Professor Rupp sums up: “I still find it incredibly moving to hear stories of young people who suffer bathing accidents, as these often result in severe paraplegia in the cervical spine with little hope of recovery in motor skills. Over the years, we have learned that rather than walking, the thing that people with paraplegia want most is to be able to use their hands and arms. This ranks alongside controlling bladder, bowel and sexual functions. All medical professionals must listen closely to their patients and work together to achieve true quality of life.”

Cynteract: a start-up company from Aachen wins innovation awards for its digital health ideas and creativity

“It began a bit like Apple with us”, smiles Gernot Sümmermann, co-founder of the start-up company Cynteract. This 24-year-old student of mechanical engineering had already won nine prizes when he participated in “Jugend forscht” as a teenager in 2014.

“It was only logical and consistent to found a start-up company in 2016 together with my housemate Manuel Wessely (25), who studies computer science. RWTH Aachen University supported us with start-up advice. We have become active in various projects with many freelancers in the meantime, but the two of us continue to comprise the core team”, Sümmermann explains.

The idea for a training glove was born when a friend suffered a stroke. He had to struggle with boring and time-consuming therapeutic exercises during his rehabilitation, so he soon stopped exercising at home. This led to deterioration of his hand functions. A solution was needed.

After more than eight years of hard work, the training glove is now being serially manufactured. It can be conveniently delivered by post; the associated software components for training are easy to use with a subscription app. The rehab glove can be connected to almost any PC or tablet and is now being used in numerous clinics and medical practices. The Cynteract team was recently awarded the NRW Special Prize for Digital Health Applications.

And that’s not all. During joint undertakings, Gernot Sümmermann noticed how severely wheelchair users are hindered by structural barriers. This situation gave him no peace of mind so he set out to explore his hometown in a wheelchair. He discovered that the most challenging obstacles were stairs and steps on buildings and in local transport, which also hinder parents with prams and senior citizens with walkers.

The Cynteract team didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but they transformed it into a star-shaped ratchet that could be used in the prototype of a stair-climbing wheelchair. The same principle can also be applied to prams. The creative team now occupies a bungalow that provides space for a small office and workshop. They have also founded the AUTAK e.V. association, which will rely on crowdfunding to finance the further development of the stair-climbing wheelchair. Here too, colleagues have been brought on board and the team’s innovative ideas are receiving support from renowned companies and associations.

In addition to having an inquiring mind, Gernot Sümmermann also motivated by a social vision. He wants establish a limited liability company in responsible ownership (i.e. without external control) for the sustainable and affordable production of aids for handicapped people. The users’ costs for the stair-climbing wheelchair should not exceed 4,000 euros. This student from Aachen is also striving to assure that expenditures for his rehab aids will be eligible for reimbursement. The entire wheelchair is intended to be an open-source project so similar wheelchairs can be constructed by anyone who follows the “open plans”, which will be freely available on the internet.

A shortage of ideas? Absolutely not! A learning platform and events for interested parties are the latest projects designed to raise awareness of the needs of people with mobility impairments. Cynteract’s agenda also foresees an app to assist visually impaired users of local public transport.

Gernot Sümmermann and Manuel Wessely will be presenting their assistive technology inventions in the “Future Pavilion” start-up marketplace at REHAB 2022, where they will be looking for contacts with users, manufacturers of assistive technology and potential sources of funding (Hall 2).

Further information about the start-up company can be found online at https://cynteract.com. Information about the “Inklusion durch Innovation” association is available at https://www.autak.org.

Startup Company Cynteract
Cynteract: a start-up company from Aachen wins innovation awards for its digital health ideas and creativity

“It began a bit like Apple with us”, smiles Gernot Sümmermann, co-founder of the start-up company Cynteract. This 24-year-old student of mechanical engineering had already won nine prizes when he participated in “Jugend forscht” as a teenager in 2014.

“It was only logical and consistent to found a start-up company in 2016 together with my housemate Manuel Wessely (25), who studies computer science. RWTH Aachen University supported us with start-up advice. We have become active in various projects with many freelancers in the meantime, but the two of us continue to comprise the core team”, Sümmermann explains.

The idea for a training glove was born when a friend suffered a stroke. He had to struggle with boring and time-consuming therapeutic exercises during his rehabilitation, so he soon stopped exercising at home. This led to deterioration of his hand functions. A solution was needed.

After more than eight years of hard work, the training glove is now being serially manufactured. It can be conveniently delivered by post; the associated software components for training are easy to use with a subscription app. The rehab glove can be connected to almost any PC or tablet and is now being used in numerous clinics and medical practices. The Cynteract team was recently awarded the NRW Special Prize for Digital Health Applications.

And that’s not all. During joint undertakings, Gernot Sümmermann noticed how severely wheelchair users are hindered by structural barriers. This situation gave him no peace of mind so he set out to explore his hometown in a wheelchair. He discovered that the most challenging obstacles were stairs and steps on buildings and in local transport, which also hinder parents with prams and senior citizens with walkers.

The Cynteract team didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, but they transformed it into a star-shaped ratchet that could be used in the prototype of a stair-climbing wheelchair. The same principle can also be applied to prams. The creative team now occupies a bungalow that provides space for a small office and workshop. They have also founded the AUTAK e.V. association, which will rely on crowdfunding to finance the further development of the stair-climbing wheelchair. Here too, colleagues have been brought on board and the team’s innovative ideas are receiving support from renowned companies and associations.

In addition to having an inquiring mind, Gernot Sümmermann also motivated by a social vision. He wants establish a limited liability company in responsible ownership (i.e. without external control) for the sustainable and affordable production of aids for handicapped people. The users’ costs for the stair-climbing wheelchair should not exceed 4,000 euros. This student from Aachen is also striving to assure that expenditures for his rehab aids will be eligible for reimbursement. The entire wheelchair is intended to be an open-source project so similar wheelchairs can be constructed by anyone who follows the “open plans”, which will be freely available on the internet.

A shortage of ideas? Absolutely not! A learning platform and events for interested parties are the latest projects designed to raise awareness of the needs of people with mobility impairments. Cynteract’s agenda also foresees an app to assist visually impaired users of local public transport.

Gernot Sümmermann and Manuel Wessely will be presenting their assistive technology inventions in the “Future Pavilion” start-up marketplace at REHAB 2022, where they will be looking for contacts with users, manufacturers of assistive technology and potential sources of funding (Hall 2).

Further information about the start-up company can be found online at https://cynteract.com. Information about the “Inklusion durch Innovation” association is available at https://www.autak.org.

Startup Company Cynteract
Winners of the 3rd Inclusion Award of the City of Karlsruhe have been selected

The time has come, the 2021 winners of the third Inclusion Award of the City of Karlsruhe have been chosen.

We congratulate Prometheus GmbH, Brigitte Reisz and the Beiertheim primary school for their outstanding work. Keep it up!

We would have been happy to welcome the award winners to our exhibition halls this year and present them with the Karlsruhe Inclusion Award as hosts at the REHAB. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, REHAB 2021 could not take place, but there is a great film showing the award winners and their commitment to inclusion*.

Next year, from 23 to 25 June 2022, REHAB will again show how important inclusion is in the workplace and will once again dedicate a separate thematic area to the topic: Marketplace Occupation & Education.

*only in German

Award of the 3rd Inclusion Award of the City of Karlsruhe

EU postpones Medical Device Regulation (MDR)
European map with medical equipment

In April, the European Commission decided to postpone the entry into force of the Medical Device Regulation (MDR) by a year – initially until 26 May 2021. This decision serves the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and is aimed at improving the availability of essential medical products in the EU.

The MDR’s goal is to assure the protection of consumers and patients. The regulation applies for all economic players and healthcare facilities throughout Europe and contains numerous obligations for all players manufacturing medical products, modifying them, making them available on the market, or using them in their business. In this way, many regulations already in existence are being further tightened or fine-tuned.

All requirements relating to the supply of aids in focus

This concerns not only manufacturers but also service providers such as medical supply stores. A present, it is still unclear whether or not transitional periods relating to the existing certification of products will be extended.

The so-called “designated bodies” are the mainstay of the new rigorous tests – only this select few are still permitted to perform certification in “on-site audits”: in view of the current safety measures and the applicable travel restrictions, it is not yet clear if and to what extent the designated bodies can issue the required certificates on time. In order to maintain the supply of medical products in Europe, professional and industry associations are therefore calling for the deferral of the transition periods and an extension of the periods for liquidation of current stocks.

Documentation, hygiene, results monitoring: strict requirements for all

The industry must continue to make preparations nonetheless: specialist retailers/medical product suppliers must fulfil comprehensive traceability and control obligations and cooperate more closely with manufacturers and preliminary suppliers. They must ensure, more than ever, that the manufacturers’ prescribed product-specific storage and transport conditions are adhered to.

The requirements for controls and storage have far-reaching effects on product management because, as is becoming clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, every supplier must always have an accurate overview of existing goods and their condition.

This creates the obligation to provide comprehensive documentation: detailed provisions on hygiene and preparation of the aids must be observed. Dealers, too, must gather, document, evaluate, and relay complaints from users and patients.

The German society for interprofessional aid supplies (DGIHV – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Interprofessionelle Hilfsmittelversorgung e.V.) has reworked all of the key rights and obligations arising for manufacturers and service providers from the EU-MDR into clearly-structured guidelines: www.dgihv.org/mdr/

More information about this and other topics at REHAB can be found:

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