Device engineered by mechanical engineering seniors helps to expand outdoor activities for people with spinal cord injuries

August 1, 2013

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Danny Salazar uses a device developed by engineers at the University of Utah to steer a sailboat by sipping or blowing into a tube.  Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth, a rehabilitation doctor with the University of Utah, rides along with him on the boat.  Salazar had never been on the water in his life, but sailed for the first time at East Canyon Reservoir with TRAILS. TRAILS stands for Therapeutic Recreation & Independent Lifestyles that helps people with spinal cord injuries learn how to do outdoor-related activities like kayaking, sailing and camping.
(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Danny Salazar uses a device developed by engineers at the University of Utah to steer a sailboat by sipping or blowing into a tube.  Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth, a rehabilitation doctor with the University of Utah, rides along with him on the boat.  Salazar had never been on the water in his life, but sailed for the first time at East Canyon Reservoir with TRAILS. TRAILS stands for Therapeutic Recreation & Independent Lifestyles that helps people with spinal cord injuries learn how to do outdoor-related activities like kayaking, sailing and camping.

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Danny Salazar uses a device developed by engineers at the University of Utah to steer a sailboat by sipping or blowing into a tube. Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth, a rehabilitation doctor with the University of Utah, rides along with him on the boat. Salazar had never been on the water in his life, but sailed for the first time at East Canyon Reservoir with TRAILS. TRAILS stands for Therapeutic Recreation & Independent Lifestyles that helps people with spinal cord injuries learn how to do outdoor-related activities like kayaking, sailing and camping.

 

Salt Lake Tribune:

“We used to literally prescribe this kind of activity. We now try to make it part of the rehabilitation experience from the beginning,” Dr. Jeffrey Rosenbluth said. As director of the university’s spinal cord injury program, Rosenbluth typically works with his patients in a clinical setting. “Just knowing this possibility is out there is an amazing part of the process. Everything we do is sustainable. This is not diversionary recreation. It is something people with spinal cord injuries can do all the time.”

Danny Salazar can’t move his arms and legs, and he has a hard time breathing on his own. But the 29-year-old can blow and suck air through his mouth just enough to control a modified Mirage Tandem Island sailboat built by Hobie.

Salazar controlled the sailboat’s rudder via a “sip and puff” system like the ones used on wheelchairs. A senior project team of mechanical engineers from the University of Utah worked for two semesters on the sailboat. (Full Salt Lake Tribune story)

UofU Mechanical Engineering E-tetra Kayak Team: L-R, Zak Evans, Michael Myers, Raleigh Cornwell, Calab Perkins, Chris Cosman, and Orlando Cintron. Not pictured are advisors: Andrew Merryweather, Ph.D., Donald Bloswick, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Rosenbluth, MD. The E-Tetra provides a bridge between motorized wheelchair technologies and the world of sea kayaking and presents some exciting achievable possibilities to users of all ability levels, especially users with limited to no use of their arms and lower extremities.