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Engineering for disability sports

28 August 2012

The Royal Academy of Engineering and partners are exploring engineering in disability sport with a programme of events to coincide with the Paralympic Games.

The programme, which takes place throughout September, features exciting design concepts, commercial cutting edge technology and debate on how sport drives engineering innovation.

In a public lecture, to be given on 6 September, Dr Amit Goffer will talk about overcoming vertical mobility impairments. Dr Goffer is the inventor of the remarkable 'ReWalk' powered exoskeleton - the first commercially available upright walking technology to enable wheelchair users with lower-limb disabilities to stand, walk and even climb stairs.

Dr Goffer's innovation captured the public's imagination earlier this year after Claire Lomas completed the London Marathon using a bionic ReWalk. He will talk about the merits and types of technologies for supporting up-right ambulation that are replacing the wheelchair, which has been used as a solution to paralysis for 2,000 years, as well as the link between sport and rehabilitation via technology.

An international conference bringing together global experts from academia and industry will take place on 4 September to examine the role of sports as a driver for engineering innovation. Sessions will cover the role that disability sports can play in bringing new materials technologies into the marketplace; the potential impact of recent advances in sensing, imaging and informatics on sport and healthcare technologies and the opportunities for rehabilitation arising from advances in sports biomechanics.

Designs for athletic equipment for Paralympians of the future, including the intriguingly-named, 'Brainsled' will be on display from 3-14 September as part of the Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Challenge Exhibition at the Academy. There will also be designs for radical new sporting events and competition models to facilitate active lifestyles for people with disabilities, devised by students from Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.

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