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World Champion visits SNAP

Stephan Büchler in action

In April SNAP GmbH had a top level visitor. Stephan Büchler, the world mountain bike champion at the “Extremity Games 2012”, was invited to the BioMedical Science Centre to look at SNAP GmbH’s test facility. At the “Extremity Games” athletes with amputations compete against each other in various sports disciplines. Stephan Büchler wears a prosthetic device and is also an orthopaedic technician himself.

Most people still believe in the clichéd image of fixed prostheses and stiff legs. But this changed a long time ago. Sports people at the Paralympics use high-tech prostheses which in some cases might even represent a competitive advantage for able-bodied athletes – according to a judgement by the relevant commission. But such innovations also flow into every day prostheses. The next generation of prostheses will even be intelligent with nerve impulses from the patient being registered on the skin and used to control the prosthesis – something which sounds utopian has already been reality for some time.

At SNAP GmbH they go one step further. They measure impulses in the brain which are associated with particular movements. In this unique test facility the test persons run a virtual route on a treadmill while the movement patterns in their brains are recorded. Once these patterns have been identified it is possible to optimize the way the prosthesis is controlled.

Extreme sportsperson Stephan Büchler tested the facility for himself and was very impressed. He will soon be coming again with his colleagues as he is also involved in the sales department at the French prosthesis manufacturer Proteor. This will provide an opportunity for further steps and discussions about collaborations. “Our New Year Reception” has already confirmed that we fill a niche in the field of medical rehabilitation and offer something which nobody else does”, explains managing director Uwe Seidel. “Mr Büchler’s enthusiasm and the interest shown by such a renowned prosthesis manufacturer shows we are on the right track.”

Together with other companies and research projects, SNAP GmbH is part of a steadily growing research and development focus on medical rehabilitation in Bochum. On 11 July they will also be holding their own congress on this topic in Bochum: the 1st NRW Forum for Rehabilitation Technology – technology assisted rehabilitation: interface between technology and care. SNAP GmbH will also be lecturing at the event.

SNAP GmbH’s project receives funding from the State of NRW and the European Union.

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