Q&A: Safety first

Navigation assistance could improve mobility for cognitively impaired wheelchair users
Monday, March 21, 2016

Alex Mihailidis has a solution for wheelchair users who lack the physical strength to use manual wheelchairs, and the judgment to operate power wheelchairs. Mihailidis, immediate past-president of RESNA, and a member of a new Toronto-based company, Braze Mobility, plan to debut a new navigation assistance system for powered wheelchairs at the upcoming RESNA/NCART conference in Arlington, Va., July 10-14. HME News recently spoke to Mihailidis about how his device can restore independence and save the healthcare system money.

HME News: What are you working on?

Alex Mihailidis: Anti-collision and navigation systems for power wheelchairs. It’s an add-on product; once you put the device on your chair, it will be able to tell you if you’re about to back up or drive into an object via audio prompts.

HME: Who is this for?

Mihailidis: Our primary target is older adults and people with various conditions that prevent them from safely driving a powered wheelchair. If you look at people with a cognitive impairment, whether it’s dementia, brain injury or stroke, a lot of them need the use of a power wheelchair, but they’re not allowed to use one because of the safety hazard that they pose to themselves, the chair and those around them.

HME: Can this product save the healthcare system money?

Mihailidis: Our focus is mainly on the user, but we also think there will be some indirect impacts on the healthcare system from a cost saving perspective. If you can maintain a person’s independence and their quality of life, they’re probably going to require fewer resources from caregivers and other clinical staff to help them. Also, if we can reduce the number of injuries that occur from power wheelchair/scooter accidents, there can be savings there as well.