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Introduction of INDEPENDENCE(TM) iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair Revolutionizes Category With New Technology

New Wheelchair Automatically Senses 'Push' Required, Increases Mobility of People With Disabilities

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Jan. 28, 2003
PRNewswire
Warren, N.J.

Independence Technology, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company, today announced the March availability of the INDEPENDENCE(TM) iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair. The iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair operates similarly to a conventional manual wheelchair, but uses proprietary technology to supplement user input power. To the user, the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair feels like a much lighter chair moving over a flat, smooth surface regardless of the terrain. Sensors and microprocessors provide motorized assistance, requiring much less effort from the user than required in a traditional manual wheelchair.

To move with the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair, the user simply pushes the handrims as if propelling a standard manual wheelchair. The patented technology of the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair monitors both the user's input and the resulting motion, determining the appropriate level of additive power to provide a similar feel even when ascending or descending ramps or crossing resistive terrain such as grass or soft carpet. To the casual observer, there is little perceived difference when viewing the contemporarily designed iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair, compared to a regular manual wheelchair. To the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair user, however, there is a remarkable difference.

Bodies Benefit from Reducing Stress and Strain of "Manual Wheelchair Syndrome"

The iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair was developed to assist people with varying forms of mobility disorders ranging from arthritis, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy, paraplegia and tetraplegia, and may relieve and/or reduce the risk of "manual wheelchair syndrome," -- repetitive stress injuries, such as rotator cuff and carpal tunnel syndrome, which are common problems among manual wheelchair users.  The iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair also provides an option for wheelchair users looking to sensibly protect and preserve upper body strength and function for years to come.

"The iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair has the potential to allow users to get around their home, office or even outdoors safely, with much less strain or effort than in a manual wheelchair," stated Charles E. Levy, M.D., chief, PRMS, North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System. "For many, it even provides an attractive, meaningful alternative for the transition from manual to power chairs. By reducing muscular effort, heart rate and perceived exertion associated with 'wheeling,' the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair provides meaningful benefits for all users," Dr. Levy observed.

Dr. Levy and colleagues tested the performance of the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair among eleven manual wheelchair users with a variety of medical conditions.  Nine of 11 users in the study reported that the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair was easier to push on smooth surfaces and inclines compared to their manual chairs, and was thus preferable.  The users anticipated that they would be more active in such a chair, with nine participants saying they would venture to new and different places in the community if they owned an iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair.  The study tested elder manual wheelchair users (average age 70.5 plus or minus 7.8 years).  Dr. Levy and his colleagues are preparing to conduct a larger, longer-term study to examine the effects of the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair.  "I expect the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair will benefit wheelers across disability categories, regardless of age," states Dr. Levy.

"The range of people with disabilities is expanding," said Rory Cooper Ph.D., chair and professor of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.  "For those who realize they can't go as far as they want -- or even go anywhere at all -- assistive technology offers a viable solution.  In addition, baby boomers, with their expectations of remaining physically active even while they lose physical capability, represent a tremendous audience for assistive technology."

Innovative, Lightweight Technology

Independence Technology gained the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair technology through the November 2002, acquisition of DeltaGlide, Inc. of Hamden, Conn.  The iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair will retail for approximately $7,900, with a percentage of that cost expected to be covered by insurance.

The iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair maintains most of the features of a manual wheelchair while combining advantages currently only available in larger, heavier power wheelchairs.  The contemporary design of the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair incorporates an unobtrusive, built-in, under-the-seat system that provides the user with discreet power assistance.  At approximately 55 pounds, the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair was designed for easy transport, with quick-release wheels, battery removal and fold-down seatback.

Independence Technology: A Company with a Mission

Created in 1995, and formally known as Independence Technology, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson company since 1999, the company mission is to develop products and technology applications that help people with disabilities live their lives with greater freedom.  With this product, Johnson & Johnson extends its tradition of innovative health care service to a community of nearly six million people worldwide who use wheelchairs.

In November, 2002, Independence Technology also received a unanimous recommendation for FDA approval from an expert independent advisory panel assembled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to evaluate data for the company's INDEPENDENCE(TM) iBOT(TM) Mobility System.  The iBOT(TM) Mobility System operates on rechargeable battery power and uses a complex system of sensors, gyroscopes and electronics to simulate balance, enabling users to climb and descend stairs, navigate variable terrain, ascend curbs and elevate, for extended periods, to a "standing" position.  The company hopes to introduce the iBOT(TM) Mobility System in mid-2003.

For additional information about the iGLIDE(TM) Manual Assist Wheelchair, the iBOT(TM) Mobility System and Independence Technology visit http://www.independencenow.com or http://www.iglidenow.com

SOURCE Independence Technology, LLC

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