National MS Society Announces 2008 da Vinci Award Technology Winners

The Michigan chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has announced its 2008
da Vinci Award winners in the assistive technology categories.
Winners include:
• The Brake-Well wheelchair braking system, described as a “second set of brakes for wheelchairs.” A paper by the designer, Breakwell Sheet Metal & Wire Fabrication, touted the system’s universal design attributes: “It allows disabled users the freedom to turn a wheelchair into a walker and provides caregivers more control on varying ramps, slopes, hills, etc. The wheelchair becomes more maneuverable by applying two individually operated hand brakes installed on the handlebars of the wheelchair.”
• Creative Mobility, Project Mobility and Versa Trike all seek to bring the fun of cycling to people with disabilities. Creative Mobility, a St. Charles, Ill.-based dealership, offers adaptive cycling vehicles, including its own creation, the Versa Trike. Project Mobility ( provides adaptive cycling camps for children and adults with disabilities, including newly injured veterans.
• i-LIMB Hand is billed as the “world’s first commercially available bionic hand with five individually powered digits.” It’s manufactured by Touch Bionics for people with upper-limb amputations and is designed to look and function like a human hand. It operates via muscle signals and is said to be easy to learn for people currently using other prosthetic devices.
• Pushrim Activated Power Assisted Wheelchair (PAPAW), created by Yamaha Motor Co. and sold by Sunrise Medical, seeks to provide propulsion options for manual wheelchair users who have or want to avoid upper-extremity joint degeneration. The PAPAW also can extend the independent mobility capabilities of manual chair users who have low-strength or endurance issues.
The Spirit of da Vinci, Founder’s and Lifetime Achievement Award winners were still to be named at press time. Winners will be honored at an event this month in Dearborn, Mich., to benefit the National MS Society’s Michigan chapter.
For full lists of 2008 and past da Vinci award winners — or to learn how you could nominate someone for a future award, given “to recognize the most innovative developments and research in adaptive and assistive technology” — visit

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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