Others are working on advanced wheelchair designs that promote mobility and independence for wheelchair users and make it easier to use a wheelchair.
Still other VA researchers are using functional electrical stimulation and other technologies to help those with weak or paralyzed muscles, and developing and testing state-of-the-art adaptive devices to help those with vision or hearing loss. These centers generally work in close partnership with affiliated universities and other institutions, as well as commercial partners and other federal agencies.
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VA's goal is to offer Veterans prosthetics that will restore them to their highest possible level of functioning within their families, communities, and workplaces.
Some VA researchers are working on developing high-functioning artificial limbs that are very similar to their natural counterparts.
This technique is known as functional electrical stimulation (FES).
FES can produce and control the movement of otherwise paralyzed limbs for standing and hand grasp, to activate visceral bodily functions such as bladder control or respiration, create perceptions such as skin sensibility, stop undesired activity such as pain or spasm, and facilitate natural recovery and accelerate motor relearning.
One example under development is the MEBot, a wheelchair that has six wheels, an onboard computer and software, and an array of high-tech sensors and actuators that help the user navigate uneven terrain.
The Center for Limb Loss and Mo Bility in Seattle is a research group focused on helping Veterans who have either lost a limb or experience leg and/or foot impairment by enhancing their ability to move around their environment.