It looks like Dean Kamen now has two inventions that are helping people with mobility problems.
If you haven’t heard about it, the Segway Human Transporter is something like a stand-up scooter. It travels up to 12 MPH, and has 5 gyroscopic sensors that maintain balance for its rider. When I first read about it (and its hefty $5,000 price tag), I thought it was only a device for lazy yuppies. San Francisco quickly banned the devices citing safety issues with pedestrians and public health issues with obesity, but now it seems that the Segway may end up being helpful for some multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and polio patients, as well as others with limited mobility.
From a quick 5-minute search, I found a rehabilitation and disabilities services provider trying it out, a 55-year-old woman with MS who says “It has given me so much freedom” and “You know the amazing thing, I can barely walk any more – I used to walk two miles a day, and now I can be on this for two hours and I don’t get tired.” There’s also a couple postings on the Segway chat forum with some users that have and hadn’t have success with the Segway, and an entire forum about Special Needs, Mobility, and Disable Use. On the Segway site, there’s also a user with Parkinson’s who loves his transporter, too.