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Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering Program

The Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering (MADE) Program develops and distributes adaptive technologies and interventions to help Veterans with physical disabilities maximize their function and participation in meaningful activities throughout their life.

Because functional abilities and desired activities change over time, the MADE Program creates adaptive technologies and interventions that can be adjusted to your changing needs.

In close collaboration with rehabilitation clinicians and industry partners, MADE investigators use a Veteran-centric, experience-based and outcome-driven design process to create practical, commercially-viable solutions.

Goals

The MADE Program is focused on the development and translation of adaptive technologies and interventions that:

  • Maximize Veterans’ participation in meaningful activities
  • Maximize Veterans’ functional abilities
  • Prevent or mitigate complications of disabilities

Collectively these themes focus on maximizing your experience throughout your life, following a disabling injury or illness. To truly break down barriers for Veterans with physical disabilities, adaptive technologies and interventions must improve functional abilities to maximize participation without causing long-term complications that prevent participation.

Meet our Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering Program staff

Research

The MADE Program research and development is focused on the following topics:

Prosthetics

Our prosthetics projects are focused on the development of novel prosthetic ankle-foot technologies for slope adaptation and enhanced balance and mobility. We work closely with Minneapolis VA’s Regional Amputation Center to develop and test novel lower-limb prosthesis technologies.

Ankle-foot prosthesis that adapts to slopes on every step.

Ankle-foot prosthesis that adapts to slopes on every step.

Ankle-foot prosthesis that locks during standing for added stability.

Ankle-foot prosthesis that locks during standing for added stability.

Wheelchairs

Our wheelchair projects are focused on the development of new drive mechanisms to improve mobility and shoulder biomechanics. We work closely with Minneapolis VA's Spinal Cord Injury and Disorders Center to develop and test novel wheelchair technologies.

Standing wheelchair allowing mobility in both sitting and standing.
Standing wheelchair allowing mobility in both sitting and standing.

Standing wheelchair allowing mobility in both sitting and standing.

Wheelchair allowing improved positioning of the push rims for shoulder health.
Wheelchair allowing improved positioning of the push rims for shoulder health.

Wheelchair allowing improved positioning of the push rims for shoulder health.

Exercise equipment

The objective of this project is to develop an arm cycle ergometer that can be used in the supine posture. For persons on bed rest, supine arm cycle ergometers could decrease recovery time and complications due to deconditioning and their associated health care costs. They could also be used throughout the medical center to provide cardiovascular exercise in patients’ rooms, allowing more time for functional tasks and strength training in physical therapy gyms. 

Arm cycle ergometer that can be used by persons on bed rest.

Arm cycle ergometer that can be used by persons on bed rest.

Orthoses and footwear

To address dropped head syndrome, we developed an elastic head support system. Our design can be worn sitting or standing, enables cervical positioning, does not interfere with speech, swallowing or breathing, avoids pressure on the mandible, and is easy and inexpensive to construct in the clinic. In a study of seven Veterans, we found that a prototype of this system was an effective tool for some patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Elastic Head Support system for the management of dropped head syndrome.

Elastic Head Support system for the management of dropped head syndrome.

Approximately 15% of adults over the age of 65 have chronic ankle-foot pain. We are currently developing and testing a rocker shoe that will naturally immobilize the ankle during walking when forces across the joint are high. We expect that the natural immobilization provided by the rocker shoe will reduce ankle-foot pain and prevent muscle atrophy compared to current approaches to treatment.

The rocker shoe will reduce ankle-foot pain and prevent muscle atrophy compared to current approaches to treatment.

The rocker shoe will reduce ankle-foot pain and prevent muscle atrophy compared to current approaches to treatment.

Eye tracking

We are developing new eye-tracking systems and algorithms that can be used to study how people visually interact with assistive technologies and with their environment. We are also working to improve augmentative and assistive communication devices for patients with ALS.

Mobile technologies

We are developing novel mobile apps (for Android and iOS) and sensor systems in order to study how these technologies can enhance therapy adherence, communication and community participation for a range of healthcare applications.

Contact and location

Minneapolis Adaptive Design & Engineering Program
Minneapolis VA Health Care System
One Veterans Drive (Research – 151)
Minneapolis, MN 55417

Phone: 612-629-7830
Fax: 612-725-2093

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