News

2023-11-29
30 years: International Day of Persons with Disabilities

This year's theme is "United in action to secure and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with and by persons with disabilities".

According to the Federal Statistical Office (2021 survey), 7.8 million people in Germany alone live with a severe disability, almost a tenth (9.4 per cent) of the total population. More than half (58 per cent) have physical disabilities, while slightly less than half (3.5 million) of people with a severe disability are in the 55 to 74 age group.*

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to affirm the full participation and equality of people with disabilities in all areas of life worldwide and to raise awareness of their needs. Various institutions and associations in Germany are committed to greater participation and inclusion, such as the German Disability Council, Aktion Mensch, Sozialhelden, the VdK social association and the Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities.**

Innovation and inclusion go hand in hand

Sabine Goetz, Managing Director of Landesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter Menschen Baden-Württemberg e.V., a smiling middle-aged woman with long brown hair, wears a black blazer and sits at her desk in front of her open laptop in the branch office, her gaze directed towards the camera.
Sabine Goetz, Managing Director of Landesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter Menschen Baden-Württemberg e.V., and her ambassadors agreed after their visit to the trade fair: "REHAB sends a strong signal for an inclusive future, participation and digitalisation!"

Since April 2021, experienced volunteer experts have been working in Baden-Württemberg on behalf of the Landesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter Menschen Baden-Württemberg e.V. (LSK) to promote participation and inclusion. With the aim of raising awareness, drawing attention to barriers and providing advice on construction projects, for example, the ambassadors are part of the LSK's state-wide accessibility competence network and are committed to an inclusive, barrier-free society at all levels of everyday life.

Particular attention is paid to the comprehensive implementation of accessibility in publicly accessible buildings such as town halls, schools, theatres and cinemas. With their support, sports facilities and swimming pools are also to become barrier-free and, for example, the redesign of barrier-free bus stops in public transport is to be promoted. They are focusing on the motto "Digital against handicaps: Let's use technology to overcome barriers - innovation and inclusion go hand in hand - accessibility 4.0".

A wheelchair user operates a tablet with a voice assistance system.
Assistive technologies enable people with disabilities to communicate with their own voice

In order to find out about technical innovations, the office of the Landesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter Menschen Baden-Württemberg e.V. visited REHAB 2023 together with members and the accessibility ambassadors. Sabine Goetz, Managing Director of the Landesverband Selbsthilfe Körperbehinderter Menschen Baden-Württemberg e.V., was enthusiastic: "At the last REHAB Karlsruhe, our state-wide accessibility ambassadors experienced ground-breaking technologies, pioneering solutions and new impulses that noticeably improve the quality of life and participation of people with disabilities. The experts themselves were unanimous: REHAB sends out a strong signal for an inclusive future, participation and digitalisation!"

Participation and self-determination through technical innovations

A man is being advised by a salesperson. The salesperson explains various functions using an electric wheelchair as an example.
Power wheelchairs help people with limited mobility to become more independent.

What role can modern technology, advanced innovations and customised aids play in enabling (more) participation? Experts agree that the right assistive technology is the basis for participation and a better quality of life. Examples of such technologies are aids for augmentative and alternative communication.

They can help many people with disabilities to participate in life. For people with cerebral palsy, ALS and spinal cord injuries, such assistive technologies enable them to communicate with their own voice, develop reading and writing skills and thus lead a more self-determined life. Modern aids based on electromobility, such as electric wheelchairs, braking and pushing aids for wheelchairs, electric add-on drives or electric mobility scooters, help people with limited mobility to move around independently. And these are just a few examples of the many aids that enable people with disabilities to enjoy a better quality of life.

REHAB Karlsruhe: Showcase for innovation and inclusion

 Nine adults and children in wheelchairs play hockey with enthusiasm in the inclusive sports centre.
REHAB 2023 offered a wide range of inclusive sports opportunities live on site.

Trade fairs such as REHAB Karlsruhe impressively demonstrate the possibilities and opportunities offered by new technologies for people with disabilities to improve participation and self-determination. "Rehabilitation is an anchor for people with disabilities and the basis for participation and quality of life. It's great that there are trade fairs like REHAB to ensure that new findings reach people quickly," emphasised Jürgen Dusel, Federal Government Commissioner for Matters relating to Persons with Disabilities and patron of REHAB Karlsruhe 2023, in his welcoming address.

This year's 22nd European Trade Fair for Rehabilitation, Therapy, Care and Inclusion attracted 12,000 trade and private visitors to Karlsruhe to get personalised advice and find out about current trends and the latest assistive technology. Visitors were able to test and compare the new products directly. And thus find out whether the wheelchair, exoskeleton, handbike or dressing aid suits their individual needs. Numerous self-help groups were on hand to answer questions and provide qualified advice on personal issues relating to the condition, as well as on occupational and rehabilitation topics and help for relatives.

REHAB Karlsruhe 2025

The next REHAB is scheduled to take place from 22 to 24 May 2025. "We are already in the midst of planning for REHAB 2025, which will also cover the entire spectrum of the industry and is an important point of contact for visitors to keep up to date with the latest developments in the assistive technology market," announces Project Manager Annika Gehrmeyer.

Further information on the trade fair and the current registration status of exhibitors can be found online at www.rehab-karlsruhe.com.

2023-06-14
Discussion rounds of LAG SELBSTHILFE Baden-Wuerttemberg

The 22nd European Trade Fair for Rehabilitation, Therapy, Care and Inclusion, REHAB, will take place in Karlsruhe from 15 to 17 June 2023.

This year, LAG SELBSTHILFE Baden-Wuerttemberg e.V. is coordinating two discussion rounds in the Forum in Hall 3, including one on 15 June 2023 on the topic: "How can participation of people with disabilities in working life be effectively increased? Opportunities and barriers."

A wide variety of representatives from all the key players in the world of work will take part in the moderated panel discussion and express their views on this burning issue of our time - from very different perspectives.

Also present are:

  • For the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health and Integration; Dr. Andreas Grünupp (Department - 32 people with disabilities);
  • for the employers - Ms. Yasmin Stößer (company social worker at the company AfB, non-profit GmbH in Ettlingen (social & green IT);
  • for the employees - who participate in working life with a disability - Mr. Tobias Böhnke;
  • Ms. Angelika Kvaic, as representative of the Employment Agency - Regional Directorate Baden-Württemberg;
  • as representative of the trade unions - Mr. Thorsten Dossow (Managing Director of the trade union Verdi (Mittelbaden - Nordschwarzwald);
  • Mr. Alexander Schwarz, as Representative for Innovation and Technology (BIT) Focus on business development and inclusion in the skilled crafts sector - from the (Stuttgart Region Chamber of Skilled Crafts);
  • Ms. Monika Leutenecker, Deputy Head of Department 35 - Inclusion in the skilled crafts sector - from the (Stuttgart Region Chamber of Skilled Crafts). Ms. Monika Leutenecker, Deputy Head of Department 35 - Inclusion Companies at the Municipal Association for Youth and Social Affairs B.W. (KVJS).

The discussion will be moderated by Bärbel Kehl-Maurer, 1st Chairwoman of LAG SELBSTHILFE Baden-Wuerttemberg e. V.

Unfortunately, people with disabilities often still find it difficult to gain a foothold in working life. Yet there are numerous opportunities that need to be exploited. However, effectively increasing the participation of people with disabilities in working life requires overcoming barriers.

Bärbel Kehl-Maurer, 1st Chairwoman of LAG SELBSTHILFE, sums it up: "People with disabilities can also make a contribution to the success of a company. The problem is that they are usually not trusted to do so. Particularly in times of labour shortages, the employment of people with disabilities - if properly organized - is a good idea."

To make this possible, there are already some "good examples" - from which it is worth learning - and a comprehensive support structure that is often still far too little known. In addition to creating barrier-free workplaces, it is particularly important to promote training and further education opportunities and raise awareness among employers and colleagues of the needs of people with disabilities.

"It is important to remain in constant dialog. Inclusion in the workplace must not be allowed to fail because those involved are not well informed or have not discussed good options," says Hans-Jürgen Hillenhagen, board member of LAG SELBSTHILFE Baden-Württemberg.

The stakeholders involved agree that the core concerns of this exchange meeting at the REHAB trade fair should be "taken on board" and further developed with those involved so that people with disabilities are given real opportunities in the world of work and additional employment opportunities in the future.

2023-06-06
Interesting people - the latest assistive technology - accessible travel destinations
The latest assistive technologies

Online magazine “Barrierefreiheit” - it's all about lifestyle with a disability. It's about mobility and tourism, leisure, sports, and technology or living and building. It's about what makes everyday life easier and what enriches life. It's about interesting people and crucial questions. Behind the online platform is a dedicated team of eight people who all know what they are talking and writing about.

Click here for the online magazine: www.barrierefrei-magazin.de

2023-06-02
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.

2023-05-24
In or out?

Many users are being overwhelmed by the digitalization of our society. Be it the Corona warning app, the property tax declaration or the digital Germany ticket. If the developers primarily see the benefits of their offerings, many users are left with fundamental questions and/or often lack the necessary equipment and expertise.

As a result, this lack leads to reduced use of the services, if not to their rejection. This usage behaviour is mainly observed among conservative occasional users and minimal online users, which is how the D21 Digital Index describes the user groups with the least knowledge.

Over half of Germans belong to one of these groups, the majority of which are made up of baby boomers and the post-war generation. As (caring) relatives, baby boomers in particular are an essential part of elderly care and therefore also a yardstick for user acceptance of digital innovations. But it is not only in the care sector that developers should pay more attention to the digital skills of boomers. The average age of new car buyers is 53 and many car manufacturers are finding that their most important customer group is struggling with digital cockpits and apps.

It is important to understand that access does not imply usage. A distinction is made between ownership and usership. Just because I own a device, e.g. a smartphone, does not automatically mean that I can use it "smartly".

Person at the computer

What can developers do to improve the acceptance of digital solutions among boomers?

There are two key levers: innovation with and communication for boomers. How co-creation and behavioural change theory can help to improve the acceptance of digital solutions, also and especially in the care sector, is the topic of the workshop "Mind the gap - Digitalization of care" on 17.06.2023 at 13:00 - 14:00, conference room 12 in the “Messe Konferenz Center” on the 2nd floor

The workshop is aimed at providers of digital services, in particular for home care, and will take place as part of the SENovation Award start-up prize. Visitors to REHAB can attend the presentation free of charge and without prior registration.

2023-05-24
For clinics and at home: REHAB presents a wide range of care beds, mattresses and positioning systems
Children's bed Lisa 102 with new free color option pink by FreiStil Tischlerei GmbH & Co. KG
The innovative master carpenters at FreiStil focus on the careful and sustainable use of resources for their therapeutic children's beds. (Image: FreiStil Tischlerei GmbH & Co. KG)

This is all the more true for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses or for bedridden senior citizens: a good care bed and an individually fitting mattress are essential.

This year at REHAB, manufacturers from Germany, as well as the Norwegian company Tidewave, will be presenting care beds for institutions and clinics, and increasingly also homely bed solutions with special mattresses for the home.

This is particularly important for the positioning, therapy and care of children and young people with disabilities. For them, a high-quality bed is essential as a recognized aid to safety and protection.

Two traditional, family-run companies from northern Germany, FreiStil and KayserBetten, have been presenting their special bed solutions for young people for years. Made from local beech wood, produced in a sustainable and resource-conserving way, they are of course also ecological and free of harmful substances. In natural colours or painted from pastel light blue to trendy pink, there are design variants for every taste and, above all, for every individual medical-therapeutic area of application.

Thomas Zander, Managing Director of FreiStil from Osnabrück, is convinced: "REHAB is a very well-structured trade fair where we can reach many of our customers from southern Germany that we would otherwise not be able to reach. It offers more time and space to exchange ideas with specialists from medical supply stores and end customers in peace and quiet. Many of our customers from the north now also come to Karlsruhe because the relevant trade fairs are often too crowded and there is a lack of time and leisure to gather information."

Consultation on a care bed at REHAB
You can get advice on various care beds and anti-decubitus systems on site at REHAB. (Image: Karlsruhe Trade Fair Center)

Classic care beds for professional use in hospitals, rehabilitation clinics and facilities can be seen from Mühle and SLK. So that they don't look so "clinical" in everyday personal use and still have all the necessary adjustment options for comfort and care, swivel and upright sitting, they are available for use in private life like other furniture with different woods or covered with wash leather or upholstery. Stand-up modules guarantee participation in family life.

People who are seriously ill, lie down a lot and cannot turn themselves need special anti-decubitus systems to prevent dangerous bedsores: From classic alternating pressure systems for all weight and age groups, which are reimbursed by health insurance companies, to innovative dynamic lying systems that provide relief through continuous pressure changes, everything can be seen at REHAB. With the new mattress from Nocubi, individual spring-loaded rollers are systematically pulled under the body within the mattress, thus ensuring constant pressure changes.

Tidewave from Norway presents "Hug", the decubitus ulcer mattress that holds the body like a hug thanks to its curved shape. It turns the patient, relieves pressure sores and also relieves the nursing staff. In times when there is a shortage of skilled staff, it is good when regular mechanical tasks such as regular repositioning are performed by a digital-mechanical mattress, leaving time for personal care and attention.

Menno van Etten, Manager at Tidewave, is already looking forward to the trade fair, as his experience of REHAB 2022 was very positive: "We were able to make excellent business contacts at REHAB in Karlsruhe last year and attracted a lot of attention with our products."

2023-05-24
GUIDZTER.COM Lounge at the trade fair: An active meeting place on the topic of living in a wheelchair
Team photo Guidzter.com
The GUIDZTER.COM team at REHAB 2022 - we look forward to seeing you again. (Image: GUIDZTER.COM)

In conversation, the guides explain what visitors can expect at the fair:

"We want to build bridges and break down barriers - life in a wheelchair is just as interesting and fulfilling as it is for anyone else. Being able to reach out to everyone with a lounge as a cooperation partner of REHAB is a great opportunity for our community and all visitors," Sabine, wheelchair user and one of the faces of the GUIDZTER.COM community, tells us.

The lounge invites visitors to meet and chat with the guides and each other. Lectures take place here every day, as well as open discussions on a specific topic, known as "G-Talks". The guides also offer the opportunity to book a personal appointment via the GUIDZTER.COM homepage. With an interview box, live talks, presentations and workshops on the topic of "Living in a wheelchair", the lounge offers a wide range of activities for all interested trade fair visitors.

Throughout the year, the community offers a team of eleven guides to share individual experiences, useful advice and personal discussions on topics that move us.

At REHAB, the guides transform this offer into the real world:

"Everyone is welcome to talk to us about sports, outdoor activities, travel, everyday hacks, legal, financial and care aspects or even to be able to broach unpleasant topics. We all want to live independently, work, travel, go out, meet friends, have sex or start a family – that is not different from any other person. There is much more possible than you think, you just have to dare to do it."

The program is diverse: "Just because we sit in a wheelchair doesn't make our lives any less exciting - we have to make that clear to everyone who still has their barriers in their heads," Philipp, who is a fan of tangible things, tells us. Until his accident, he was an enthusiastic motorcyclist. Today, he passes on his experience and knowledge as a guide. At REHAB, interested visitors can learn about assistive devices in a workshop with Philipp, design their own assistive devices using a 3D drawing program, present their own assistive devices and/or adapt their wheelchair.

Presentation at the REHAB 2022
Presentation by the guides Sabine and Tina at REHAB 2022 (Image: GUIDZTER.COM)

Sabine has been part of GUIDZTER.COM from the very beginning and is generally looking forward to meeting people at the trade fair: "It is important for our community to dispel fears, set examples and encourage people with disabilities to be more independent. I decide what I want to do and what I can do. Others don't have to do it for me!"

The idea of connecting people in wheelchairs, passing on experiences and being an example and encouragement is a successful model. The community has been around since the beginning of 2020 and is constantly growing.

"We are excited to see whether people will recognize us as familiar faces after our appearance at REHAB 2022 this year," says Danny Locher, who has been supporting the community from the very beginning. "We have big plans: Shooting videos for exhibitors at the trade fair, reporting on aids in everyday testing, making contacts, engaging in conversation, providing information and expanding our community."

Barriers are an issue in general: "Sometimes we are more disabled than we actually are! There is still a long way to go before we have an inclusive society - we have to fight stereotypes with our services and build bridges for like-minded people and those who are interested. We can do this better together - and the community supports us as a person and as part of it."

The final preparations are still being made to ensure that the lounge in the dm-arena and a daily programme from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. will be a complete success. The lecture and workshop programme at the lounge can be found at www.guidzter.com/rehab-23.

You can read more about the community at www.guidzter.com

2023-04-26
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.

2023-04-21
Outdoor Fun Unlimited - Recreational Solutions for People with Limited Mobility

It's a good thing that the market has adapted to this ever-growing group of active people and offers a wide range of mobility options that leaves nothing to be desired. Former niche products have become contemporary mobility solutions to meet the increasingly individual needs of this target group.

The large selection of products opens up many possible applications for users: From therapy tricycles for the little ones to electric-assisted traction devices for wheelchairs, e-bikes, tandems, recumbent bikes and e-scooters with a wide range of equipment options and smart controls. This year at REHAB, many exhibitors will once again be offering mobility solutions for all age groups to get to know, touch and try out. These aids can be used to combine therapeutic goals with coping with everyday life and leisure activities.

A child rides a blue tricycle on the street and laughs into the camera. The child is also wearing pink trousers and a colourful T-shirt.
Schuchmann manufactures children's rehabilitation technology - like this tricycle. (Image: Schuchmann GmbH & Co. KG)

Combining leisure and therapy: "Mobility is more than fun!" Torsten Schuchmann, a manufacturer of aids for children and young people, is aware of the need to combine therapy and fun.

He believes: "We humans particularly enjoy being active in the community of our own accord when it's fun. So why not develop products that enable participation and combine it with therapeutic benefits. We want to offer active people the best possible support to keep them mobile. Activity promotes their independence, trains circulation, balance, spatial thinking, muscles and strengthens the bony structure. This applies not only to children, but to all people."

Accessing the local area: From small children with congenital disabilities to older people with limited mobility, the aim is to cope independently with everyday life and access the local area - such as the way to school, the doctor or the supermarket. Mobility solutions that are becoming increasingly easy to use ensure that people can lead a self-determined life. As our society ages, it is important to keep people mobile for as long as possible.

Ensuring participation: Particularly in the leisure sector, there is a growing need for people with limited mobility to be able to take part in joint activities with family or friends. In the children's sector, there is a need for support options that grow with the child and individual adaptations to the respective users, but also with regard to possible uses at all ages.

The picture shows a woman and a man in wheelchairs travelling along a city street. Both wheelchair users are using a traction device to get around.
Wheelchair traction devices, harness bikes and other exciting mobility aids can be tested at REHAB. You will also find SwissTrac products on site.

Individuality is a top priority: The manufacturers' product range at REHAB shows trade fair visitors what is important: quickly adaptable, transportable and scalable products are in demand. Mobility solutions are increasingly developing from rehabilitation aids into lifestyle products. Equipped with special microchips and individually controllable via apps, manufacturers are making it possible to adapt drives and vehicles to the respective user profile and abilities.

What applies to children can be taken further in the adult sector: Three-wheeled scooters with a large footprint and electric drive, such as those from Micro Mobility Systems, promote balance and motor skills, support therapies and increase the radius of action - even for older people.

Wheelchair traction devices or push bikes such as those from Swiss-Trac or R&E Stricker make it possible to cope with longer distances, uneven terrain, inclines and transportation by car or public transport - at any age.

The photo shows a man, a woman and a tandem bike. The man is sitting on the seat of the tandem and smiling at the camera. The woman stands behind the tandem and adjusts the seat.
Fun in a double pack - that's what you can experience with the Parallel Tandem Fun2Go from manufacturer Van Raam B.V. (Image: Van Raam B.V.)

In the bicycle sector, there are many variations for combining physical activity, therapy and leisure enjoyment: Everything from recumbent bikes, cargo bikes, tandems and folding bikes to therapy bikes and rehabilitation vehicles can be seen and tried out at the trade fair. With the appropriate electric pedal support and different types of drive, the radius of action is increased, a tricycle or recumbent bike, for example, provides additional stability, as can be seen with the Easy Rider Compact from Van Raam or Trix and Trigo UP from Hase Bikes or with therapy bikes from Schuchmann in the children's and youth sector, such as the new recumbent tricycle Mats that grows with the child.

Cycling with people who can no longer find their way around traffic on their own? This is also possible with the revised Fun2Go parallel tandem from the manufacturer Van Raam, for example.

The JOYY ONE personal transporter from JOYY Mobility, which is equipped with an electric drive, ergonomic seat and stabilization technology, promises safe and manoeuvrable driving with just two wheels and yet is still safe to use.

Joysticks and smartphone controls make it easy, safe and customizable to use.

Reimbursement is possible in many cases

Health insurance companies or other cost bearers often come into question for the purpose of assuming costs within the framework of the principle of benefits in kind: If a product is not an object of daily life, is specially built for this purpose and, according to §33 SGB V, serves to "compensate for a disability" and a significant improvement in mobility in the immediate vicinity or to ensure medical treatment or to avert an impending disability, both health insurance companies or other cost bearers come into play. Costs can also be covered in accordance with SGB IX and the participation goals enshrined therein, which ensure that a person with a disability can lead a self-determined and independent life with the basic right to personal mobility and the assurance of participation in life in the community.

You should not miss the opportunity to try out the many exhibitors at the 22nd European Trade Fair for Rehabilitation, Therapy, Care and Inclusion in Karlsruhe - the test track also offers exciting opportunities to try out the new products.

2023-04-21
Inclusive sports area at the REHAB

Inclusive children's and youth sport also has a very important function in a very traditional club. Mandy Pierer now works full-time at the MTV Wheelers in Stuttgart as the inclusion manager of the 180-year-old "men's gymnastics club". "The name from the old days is deceptive. We now have more women, who are also very active in sport, among our 8,500 members. For example, Anja Wicker, the successful female biathlete, comes from the MTV."

She and her husband have been coaching the Wheelers for over nine years, initially as volunteers, and knows how important sport is for people with severe disabilities. There is no substitute for participation and it builds a positive self-image, especially in children. Her 15-year-old son is very successful on his handbike, but her two daughters also participate as walkers. As soon as a child gets their first wheelchair, they can learn how to handle the wheelchair correctly with the wheelchair minis, and from the age of six up to young adulthood, it is the wheelchair kids who take part in many sports.

You can see a portrait photo of Mandy Pierer standing at a table with the words MTV Stuttgart on it. Ms. Pierer is wearing a striped top, has brown hair and is smiling at the camera.
As inclusion manager, Mandy Pierer is committed to the participation of people with disabilities at MTV Stuttgart. She is also involved in various hands-on activities at REHAB. (Image: Lichtgut Ferdinando Iannone)

Wheelsoccer, for example, is totally cool and extremely inclusive: pedestrian children in mechanical wheelchairs can play in a team with kids in electric wheelchairs, some of whom are severely affected. The large Pezziball is driven around the whole hall in a very sporty way. "At the end, everyone is sweaty and happy because there are rules for the different situations that make it easy for everyone to take part. Fortunately, society's view of inclusion is slowly changing, and in addition to siblings and friends of young people with disabilities, there are also more and more "pedestrian children" who are curious to get a taste of it and stay in the sports groups," summarizes Mandy Pierer.

Inclusive sports games are on the programme every day of the fair. Information on many sports and clubs will be available at individual stands and at the inclusive sports facility in the dm-arena. Other highlights of the REHAB sports programme include Adaptive self-defense for all, presented by Esther Weber, Olympic champion in wheelchair fencing and member of the newly founded Frankfurt Inclusive Sports Club.

The Badischer Behinderten- und Rehabilitationssportverband e.V. and the Hessischer Behinderten- und Rehabilitations-Sportverband e.V. will be there with field hockey in wheelchairs and biathlon in wheelchairs, and power field hockey with electric wheelchairs is in preparation.

Further information can be found in the trade fair programme.

Wheelsoccer: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=340943381370271

MTV Stuttgart: https://www.mtv-stuttgart.de/verein/

Frankfurt Inclusive Sports Club: https://fisev.de

The photo shows several people in wheelchairs playing with a ball. The goal at which they are aiming can be seen in the background.
A wide variety of sports will be shown at the REHAB inclusive sports facility, with hands-on activities to try out.
2023-04-21
Children's book tip: About life with a wheelchair

You can find the press release in German version here!

2023-04-21
Myofasciotomy - a minimally invasive treatment for shortened muscles
You can see a portrait photo of Dr. Peter Bernius, chief physician at the Schön-Klinik's Centre for Paediatric and Neuro-Orthopaedics. He is wearing a white doctor's coat and a tie. He is also wearing glasses, has short grey hair and is smiling at the camera.
As part of CON.THERA, interested parties can attend a lecture by Dr. Peter Bernius, Chief Physician at the Schön-Klinik's Centre for Paediatric and Neuro-Orthopaedics. (Picture: Peter Bernius)

As part of the interdisciplinary conference for therapists CON.THERA, Dr. Peter Bernius, Chief Physician at the Centre for Paediatric and Neuro-Orthopaedics at the Schön-Klinik, will provide information on the "percutaneous myofasciotomy" method.

In very simple terms, this relatively "bloodless procedure" involves feeling the surface of scars within a muscle, cutting them with a special, very short scalpel and splitting the fascia that envelops all muscles. This does not cause any new, large skin injuries and the still functional muscles are spared. The pain after the operation is significantly less and lasts for a shorter time. The important post-operative mobilization is easier because there is less loss of strength in the operated muscles.

Since 2008, this method has spread among many parents of children with cerebral palsy, particularly via the Internet. This is because the significantly less invasive procedure with almost invisible scars is less stressful for the children and their families who have to undergo many operations.

In principle, many muscle corrections on the arms, legs, trunk and even the head can be carried out in one operation under anesthesia. Patients of all ages remain in hospital for two to three nights and then have to exercise and move their "newly elasticized muscles" for several hours every day. The motto here is: "A lot helps a lot".

Background

Alternating loads stimulate muscle development in a healthy child, keeping the muscles elastic and resilient. Children with cerebral palsy (CP), but also stroke patients, always develop structural muscle changes, even though the lesions are in the brain and the muscles are not primarily affected. Reduced movement leads to shortening of the muscles. This in turn leads to spasticity and, over time, to scarring and hardening of the connective tissue and the fascial sheath around the muscle belly. As soon as this tissue is no longer elastic, pain-induced cramped postures develop. The joints become bent and immobile, resulting in damage and restricted mobility of the whole body.

In the orthopaedic treatment of CP in children, in addition to the necessary "major" bony operations on the hips, legs and feet, tendons are unfortunately still surgically lengthened to enable walking or a physiological sitting posture. Percutaneous myofasciotomy is an important addition to these classic treatment methods. Tendon lengthening should be avoided.

The earlier one begins with muscle maintenance therapy and thus prevents major consequential damage, the better the quality of life of the affected person will be. The muscle is constantly learning during infancy. These "learning experiences" activate further processes in the brain that children with CP miss out on. During child development, there are always relevant time windows that need to be used. If the muscles, and therefore the young patients, remain inactive, they can expect lifelong limitations that could perhaps have been avoided through early intervention.

"The correction options with this minimally invasive procedure are very good and, in our experience, are equivalent to the options available with open surgery. The duration of the procedure per muscle is short. Gaps can be cut in the hardened muscles in different areas of the body per anesthesia by making many small incisions. The immediately noticeable muscle relaxation together with the reduced after-effects of the operation lead to good acceptance among those affected and their relatives," summarizes Dr. Peter Bernius.

Patients come to Munich from Australia, Vancouver and Vladivostok. However, myofasciotomy is still viewed critically because there is too little research into it. "In children and adolescents with CP, it's not just about mobility in the arms and legs. We can also regulate the strong flow of saliva, which is socially very stigmatizing and stressful for those affected and their relatives. Children with CP are like top athletes: all medical professionals will try to get the best out of them to keep their quality of life high and enable them to participate. In this way, the necessary aids from orthoses to wheelchairs, standing trainers, therapy chairs and other adaptations can also be used more effectively," summarizes Dr. Bernius. His presentation of the Munich concept at CON.THERA conference is aimed at all interested parties. A good overview of all the aids and the opportunity to try out many of them will then be available in the exhibition halls at the 22nd REHAB in Karlsruhe from June 15 to 17, 2023.

Link tips for further information:

https://kbo-kinderzentrum-muenchen.de/forschungsschwerpunkte-und-projekte/cerebralparese/einfluss-der-perkutanen-myofasziotomie-auf-die-gehfunktion-bei-patienten-mit-spastischer-cerebralparese

https://miotenofasciotomia.com/en/

2023-03-31
“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.

2023-03-31
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.

Information

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.

2023-03-22
Emergency situations of people with ventilation: This is how they are helped particularly quickly

A power cut is annoying for most people. For people with respiration, however, it can be life-threatening. The portal of the German Interdisciplinary Society for People with Respiration (DIGAB) provides a wealth of information as well as useful and valuable tips for a self-determined life with respiration.

The guide on the topic of power failure contains important emergency numbers, apps, tips on prevention and even ways to manage without a respirator for a certain period of time. Without claiming to be complete, it can be a good guide and ask the relevant questions that every person with respiration can integrate into their individual emergency management.

The emergency backpack, for example, contains papers, supporting documents and replacement materials for daily needs on the move. However, it only makes sense if it is up to date, can be used and is well and sensibly packed. A list of all useful contents can be found HERE (only in German).

2023-03-22

With more than 150 scientists from the disciplines of medical technology, additive manufacturing, robotics, life sciences and data sciences, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has launched the "Health Technologies" center. The aim of the center is to develop new medical products on a digital and technological basis.

Users must provide data

However, the researchers are not doing this alone. They are particularly dependent on the users for whom the medical products are intended. With smart watches or other intelligent devices, for example, users provide precise data on the human body that is incorporated into the research.

Andrea Robitzki, head of the KIT Health Technologies Center at KIT, says: "Our vision is for patients and citizens of the region to interact directly with doctors, clinics and other healthcare stakeholders in the greater Karlsruhe area. In this way, we want to create a unique ecosystem."

Responding to the needs of an ageing society

According to Professor Oliver Kraft, Vice President for Research at KIT, the project aims to respond to the needs of an ageing society and supplement these with modern, new offerings through research-oriented studies.

The researchers are working in areas such as humanoid robotics, exoskeletons, accelerator technologies for radiation diagnosis systems, biomaterials and precision medicine for personalized therapies. Research is also focusing on the protection of health data and digital health.

Find more information about the KIT project HERE.

2023-03-22
The dictionary of self-determined participation

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

2023-03-01
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)

2023-03-01
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: HERE
  • More Informationen about HKK Bionics and its product: HERE
  • Everything about the concept of Neofact: HERE
  • The everyday aids from Kinova are available HERE

2023-02-22
Careers in medicine: How do I find the perfect match?

The book "Karriere in der Medizin" (Career in Medicine – available only in German) provides answers to these questions.

Finding your own path and setting off in the right direction after your studies and training - this is a topical issue, especially in times of a shortage of specialists in medicine. But it is also worth taking stock at later stages of your career. Am I still happy in my job? Do I need a new direction? And how can I achieve this? The guide "Career in medicine - How do I find my perfect match?", edited by Julia Schäfer, is dedicated to these and other topics.

It doesn't always have to be a doctor's coat

With a licence to practice medicine in their pocket, medical professionals have a huge range of opportunities - and not just in a doctor's coat. There is no one-size-fits-all career; everyone has to find the path that is right for them. This is where "Career in Medicine" comes in. The book is a compass for determining your personal position and your path through professional life. It broadens your horizons and describes the diverse job profiles in hospitals, science, consulting, health insurance, medical technology and industry.

Prominent medical professionals tell their stories

In order to provide an even better insight into various professional fields, prominent figures in the field of medicine report in interviews on their path into medicine, the challenges they had to overcome and the tips they give. The broad spectrum of opportunities in curative medicine is presented in detail - with testimonials from a wide variety of fields.

2023-01-25
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.”

2023-01-25
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:

2023-01-23
Wintertime is snow sports time: tips and offers from the German Disabled Sports Association

With a simple "I'm out", World Cup alpine ski racer Benedikt Staubitzer said goodbye to professional sport in 2019. However, he has not given up his passion for snow and skiing and now inspires young and old to take part in winter sports as project coordinator for snow sports at the German Disabled Sports Association (DBS).

"Enthusiasm for snow sports never leaves you"

"Winter vacations are a big topic for wheelchair users, and not just from southern Germany," says Staubitzer. Families with children with disabilities, young people, but also older and experienced wheelchair users who are no longer able to indulge in classic alpine skiing due to an accident or illness, keep coming back to the snow. "The enthusiasm for snow sports never leaves you," Staubitzer is certain. Whether on sporty monoskis, more "stable" bi-skis or Nordic sports such as cross-country skiing or biathlon, the DBS and its regional and specialist associations offer winter sports at all levels of ability.

Seven people are on skis. Four of them are sitting on ski equipment for people with disabilities, three people are standing on skis. Six people are looking at a man who is also sitting on skis. He is explaining how to handle the skis.
Monoskis or bi-ski equipment offer people with disabilities the opportunity to take part in winter sports. (Image: private)

"Sport is important for all of us to stay healthy, whether you walk, are visually impaired, use a wheelchair or have lost limbs due to amputations, there are sporting opportunities for almost everyone and we support them," Staubitzer continues.

Lina Neumair from the DBS not only relies on information from DBS regional associations, new sports groups are constantly coming together, especially on social media and through word of mouth. The most important message: you are not alone! People exchange ideas and talk shop about converted sports equipment.

The offer ranges from talent days and snow sports weekends to online courses that clubs that want to set up an inclusive department can book free of charge. The young and committed DBS team is committed to "sport for all".

Many people are skiing down the hill on a ski slope. In the foreground is a person on a monoski.
The monoski is probably the best-known type of ski for people with disabilities. (Image: private)

As monoski or bi-ski equipment from specialized manufacturers is expensive to purchase, individual ski schools in Germany and Austria now offer such conversions to try out. Another opportunity for wheelchair users to try out skiing is offered by the snow sports weekends organized by the DBS regional associations. The next one will take place at the end of January in Kirchzarten and in February 2023 in Sauerland.

The major aid manufacturer and REHAB exhibitor ottobock is one of the main sponsors of the Disabled Sports Association and, together with other aid specialists, sees itself as an "enabler" of the inclusive sports concept.

A woman stands on two skis. She is pushing a child. The child is sitting with skis underneath him.
There are also opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy winter sports. (Image: picture alliance/DBS)

At the 22nd REHAB, from June 15 to 17, 2023, visitors can find out more about biathlon from the Badischer Behinderten- und Rehabilitationssportverband (BBS – Baden Disabled and Rehabilitation Sports Association) and try their hand at the shooting range. Other sports associations will be involved, demonstrating sports and inviting visitors to take part in the inclusive sports complex at the trade fair in Karlsruhe.

Successful genetic treatment

When asked what motivates him to get involved in handicap sports after his professional career, Benedikt Staubitzer tells the story of a couple he met who were skiing enthusiasts. Their five-year-old son had been diagnosed with SMA, a life-shortening progressive disease called spinal muscular atrophy. The parents sadly saw themselves "never again in the snow and in the mountains", especially not as a family. Thanks to a completely new pharmaceutical gene treatment, the physical effects of SMA were not only halted, but the boy recovered so well that he now skis together with his parents.

"I'll never forget the broad, happy grins on the faces of father and son on their first downhill run together on a bi-ski," beams the Upper Bavarian alpine ski racer and continues: "This 'snow sports' coordination position at the DBS came at just the right time, after the end of my career. I can pass on my passion and enthusiasm for snow sports in a great environment. The focus on participation and therefore a completely different sporting community has opened up new perspectives for me."

  • Further information on REHAB 2023 can be found HERE.
  • Comprehensive basic information on all types of sport for people with various disabilities at Parasport.
  • A free handbook with tips on all sports can be found HERE.
  • On 12 February 2022, there will be a snow sports weekend in the Sauerland to try out.

2022-12-12
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.

2022-12-12
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

2022-12-12
“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 .

2022-12-07
FOCUS CP rehaKIND Congress in Dortmund in February
Spectators sit in the audience and look at the stage. There, four speakers sit at a long table. Above them is a screen.
The discussion format inspires sufferers and professionals alike and fills large halls. (Pictures: rehaKIND e.V.)

"When children with disabilities and chronic illnesses are not doing well, all those involved must work together to find a solution." With this guiding principle, the rehaKIND e.V. network has successfully developed a special congress format together with three medical associations: The aim is the exchange and transfer of knowledge between experts from medicine, therapy and technology and those affected and their families at eye level. All participants should be able to "look beyond their own nose".

A man is sitting on a bar stool at a table. He is operating a robot arm with a joystick. He smiles and fixes the movement of the arm with his eyes.
At the congress there will be an accompanying trade exhibition with tools to try out.

In addition to many lectures and plenary sessions, the multi-stage congress programme also offers practice-oriented workshops and skills sessions for all participants. The focus is always on a high level of scientific expertise, coupled with a strong practical and user orientation. In the free exhibition, interested parties can also try out all kinds of tools for everyone.

For more information and to book, visit focuscprehakind.de.

2022-12-05
BARMER withdraws revision: Facilitated care with Rewalk exoskeletons for paraplegics in the future

REHAB, trade fair for rehabilitation, therapy, care and inclusion will take place in the Karlsruhe exhibition halls from June 15 to 17, 2023. Rewalk Robotics will also be there. The company manufactures exoskeletons - and will become even more important for people with spinal cord injury in the future.

The reason for this is the withdrawal of the appeal by the Barmer insurance company against the judgement of the second instance of the State Social Court of North Rhine-Westphalia. A 32-year-old man, who is insured with Barmer and had applied there for the supply of a Rewalk Personal 6.0 exoskeleton, was at the center of the legal dispute.

A patient wears an exoskeleton and stands. A Rewalk employee is kneeling next to him and advising him. Other people are standing around them.
Finally, the latest products and further developments could once again be experienced and tested in direct exchange with manufacturers - such as the Rewalk exoskeleton. (Photo: Messe Karlsruhe / Behrendt und Rausch)

The withdrawal of the appeal shortly before the deadline at the Federal Social Court means that the judgement of the State Social Court of North Rhine-Westphalia is now legally binding. As a result, paraplegics in Germany can now expect easier access to a Rewalk exoskeleton.

An exoskeleton can enable paraplegics to stand upright, walk and even climb stairs. In its judgement, the State Social Court of North Rhine-Westphalia pointed out that insurance companies may not reject applications for orthopaedic aids such as the Rewalk exoskeleton on the grounds that insured persons have already received care with aids that also serve to indirectly compensate for disabilities.

"The German healthcare system is a pioneer in establishing high standards for the care of people with spinal cord injury," says Larry Jasinsky, CEO of Rewalk Robotics. "Following the achievement of the exoskeleton as a recognized aid in the list of medical aids in 2018, the recognition that exoskeletons serve to directly compensate for disabilities is now only logical. As a service provider, we very much appreciate the fact that health insurance companies commission us to provide their policyholders with exoskeletons. Rewalk Robotics will continue to meet the highest quality standards in the provision of Rewalk exoskeletons."

Several REHAB flags are waving in the wind.
The next REHAB will take place in the Karlsruhe exhibition hall from June 15 to 17. (Photo: Messe Karlsruhe/Jürgen Rösner)

Plaintiff Lars Vinken can finally use his Rewalk exoskeleton after many years of waiting and legal battles: "The fact that other paraplegics will now have easier access to this technology is of enormous value. Being supplied with an exoskeleton and being able to get up and walk again at any time opens up new horizons for me," he says.

On June 11, 2018, the Rewalk Personal 6.0 was the first exoskeleton for spinal cord injury patients to be listed by the GKV-Spitzenverband in the list of medical aids. This means that the system is officially recognized and reimbursable in Germany as an aid according to paragraph 33 SGB V with the aid number 23.29.01.2001. The corresponding indication is: bilateral paralysis of the hip, thigh and lower leg muscles.

2022-10-24
Innovative education from Karlsruhe
Students start New Medical Technology programme at KIT
The Medical Technology degree programme at KIT focuses on digitalization, electrical engineering and information technology. (Photo: Markus Breig, KIT)

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), known for innovation, launched a new bachelor's degree course in medical technology in the winter semester. "By focusing on digitalization, electrical engineering and information technology, the research-oriented and practice-oriented medical technology course at KIT optimally prepares students for new technology trends and challenges in the field of industrial and clinical development of medical devices," says Professor Werner Nahm from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at KIT.

This know-how is combined with broad user knowledge from medicine and medical technology as well as knowledge of regulations and standards. "With the Bachelor's degree in Medical Technology, students have the competence to translate medical problems into engineering tasks and to develop responsible solutions under technical, regulatory, economic and social conditions," says Nahm.

In the six-semester course, which is subject to admission restrictions, students will acquire a universal foundation that will open up attractive career opportunities in many sectors. The course has a direct practical focus from the first semester, with options to choose between industry, research and clinical internships as well as on-site teaching in hospitals and university clinics. A mobility window is also planned in the fifth semester for international exchanges at other universities, for example as part of an ERASMUS stay.

Last week, the teaching staff welcomed the first students on the new course. For the future engineers, the lecture period of their first semester begins next Monday with a lecture on physiology and anatomy. Werner Nahm is more than satisfied with the response to the new course: "The announcement and advertisement of the new course immediately met with a pleasingly high level of interest. The number of applications far exceeded the available capacity."

2022-10-24
Accompanying specialist congresses ensure multi-professional exchange in the context of the trade fair

In addition to the interdisciplinary therapist congress CON.THERA with a focus on neurorehabilitation, two further guest congresses will take place on the exhibition grounds parallel to REHAB. All three congresses will deal with interprofessional neurological topics in medicine, therapy and care of patients. This range of further education opportunities at the upcoming REHAB will enable participants, visitors and exhibitors to benefit from a variety of synergies.

Andrea Jagusch-Espei, Member of the Board of the Association of Bobath Therapists in Germany e.V.

This is the second time that the annual conference of the Association of Bobath Therapists in Germany is being held as part of REHAB. Andrea Espei from the board of the professional association: "The first time, accompanying REHAB 2019, was an experiment - although both events have related topics (people with neurological diseases, new treatment methods, empowerment of those affected, exchange with experts, etc.), we were not sure from the Bobath Association side whether we could maintain our familiar atmosphere and the density of content of our previous training conferences.

These concerns were allayed after the event, not least thanks to the excellently connected conference area, which makes it easy to switch between the conference and the trade fair: the participants of the Bobath Conference benefited from the exhibition of aids, the trade fair visitors from the specialist presentations at the trade fair and the exhibitors from the therapists to whom they were able to present their products and innovations. So there was no question of repeating this format."

Prof. Dr. Michael Jöbges, first chairman of the DGNKN

In terms of both content and personnel, the annual conference of the DGNKN, German Society for Neurotraumatology and Clinical Neurorehabilitation, is a perfect match for REHAB. The first chairman of the DGNKN, Prof. Dr. Michael Jöbges (Kliniken Schmieder, Constance), is also a member of the scientific advisory board of the Bobath Association. Some thematic blocks will be jointly organized and top-class panels will be held.

With Prof. Dr. Dr. Uwe Spetzger, Director of the Neurosurgical Clinic at Karlsruhe Municipal Hospital, as DGNKN Congress President, a "local beacon" of the Karlsruhe scientific region is involved. It is particularly important to both of them to present the topics from different positions and professional perspectives and also to discuss them with those affected. "This kind of cooperation brings about a change of perspective across professions, we learn from each other and the best treatment for our patients is definitely always together," summarizes Prof. Jöbges.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Uwe Spetzger, Director of the Neurosurgical Clinic at Karlsruhe Municipal Hospital and DGNKN Congress President

Even if there are fewer serious craniocerebral injuries due to, for example, greater safety in motorcycle accidents or accidents at work, the number of people who are significantly affected, usually for the rest of their lives, remains relatively constant. "We are currently seeing many more people involved in e-bike accidents. This is also due to the fact that most bicycle helmets are not suitable for the speeds being ridden.

Our aim is to draw more attention to craniocerebral injuries," says Prof. Spetzger, "we want to make it very clear what a traumatic brain injury means: starting with the accident, with acute hospitalization, rehabilitation, followed by lifelong outpatient care, aids, therapies, care - the entire everyday life changes and all areas of life are massively affected."

Further information on the congress programs can be found online at:

www.bobath-vereinigung.de

www.dgnkn.de

www.rehab-karlsruhe.com/conthera

Photo credits Jöbges, Spetzger, Espei: private

2022-10-24
22nd REHAB Karlsruhe will once again take place in three halls

Following the end of the early bird rate for exhibitors and the resulting response from many industry leaders, the trade fair management is once again planning the upcoming REHAB in three exhibition halls.

"We are delighted to have so many market-leading companies with us again: manufacturing companies such as Ottobock, Alber, Meyra and Schuchmann as well as specialist retailers such as Storch & Beller and SC Sanitätshaus Carstens have already confirmed their stand space for 2023 nine months before the start of the trade fair. REHAB Karlsruhe will once again represent the entire spectrum of the industry," says Project Manager Annika Gehrmeyer.

Furthermore, the marketplace concept for bundling the diverse trade fair topics, which received top marks from almost 90 percent of visitors, will be retained and continuously improved. From 2023, the trade fair for rehabilitation, therapy, care and inclusion will once again take place every two years.

REHAB has become a highlight in the industry's calendar for over 40 years and has established itself every two years as the most important platform for high-quality mobility aids and children's aids from Germany and across Europe. Overall, the range of the trade fair covers the latest trends and innovations in rehabilitation technology, the supply of aids and current therapeutic approaches and care services.

Click here for the current list of exhibitors.

Visitors on their way to the dm-arena
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.”