Imagine losing your ability to use everyday objects like your phone, computer or microwave. Imagine not being able to continue a beloved hobby, such as photography. These are just some of the challenges faced every day by many of our Veterans. And this is why the Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting the first VA Innovation Creation Series for Prosthetics and Assistive Technologies, powered by the VA Center for Innovation. This initiative aims to accelerate the development of personalized technologies to better care for Veterans by bringing together individuals from different backgrounds. Engineers, designers and problem solvers – join us in tackling this challenge!

On our website, we have posted a list of challenge areas facing Veterans. To enhance our ability to generate solutions, we are utilizing the innovation platforms Innocentive and GrabCad. These sites will help harness the expertise, skills, and passion of the public to address the following challenges:

  • Developing novel upper and lower extremity devices for the end of daily-use prostheses
  • Creating a medication pillbox able to both hold medications that need to be taken up to 8 times a day and remind users when to take each dose
  • Creating a device that can dampen tremors when someone is performing fine motor tasks
  • Designing a device to remotely change the speed and grip strength of a prosthetic device for our veterans with upper extremity injuries
  • Create a way to reassign motions and buttons on gaming controllers to provide alternative access for veterans who are using them in therapy to improve eye hand coordination, fine motor control and/or range of motion.

We believe in the power of open innovation to help us address those tough problems, specifically through incentive prizes and collaboration with innovators from across the country. We are calling all solvers to participate in this challenge.

Many of our challenges seek input from the rapidly growing “maker community.” The maker movement has shown the enormous potential of 3D printing and we want to extend this to help Veterans. (You can read here about how VA has begun to harness that potential.) The ability to personalize devices is incredible; people with all levels of technical ability can design 3D objects to meet the unique aspects or needs of a patient, whether it be to meet their body type or enable specific daily tasks.

Veterans are just one of the many communities that will benefit from the contributions of this challenge. At the end of the series, we are open sourcing the designs for public use so that anyone can tailor and implement the designs within their own community. We hope to not only utilize 21st century technology to improve access to new prosthetic and assistive technologies, but also to inspire the Innovation Nation to further advance these devices.

After our launch at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System, the Challenge will head to the National Maker Faire in Washington, D.C. on June 12 and 13. At that time, designers, engineers, and all solvers can contribute initial design solutions to the aforementioned challenges.

The VA Innovation Creation Series will culminate in a two-day “make-a–thon” event at Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center in Richmond, VA on July 28 and 29, where the online designs will be built and tested to showcase how they meet the needs of Veterans.

Joining us on this journey is The Ipsos Girls’ Lounge “Pop Up,” which will be focused on celebrating female Veterans, scientists, technologists and engineers. They’ll be starting at the Palo Alto VA on May 15 for the launch, continuing to Washington, D.C., for the National Maker Faire on June 12 and 13 and concluding with the Makeathon in Richmond.

Meet some of the incredible Veterans that inspired this challenge by checking out this video.

The time is now to make a difference! Join us in developing these prosthetics and assistive technologies.

Visit our website to learn more about the VA Innovation Creation Series.


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Published on May. 15, 2015

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