Veteran Rickey Phillips’ smile and fist bump said it all. He was the first recipient of an iBOT Personal Mobility Device (iBOT PMD).

The iBOT PMD utilizes advanced electronics, sensors, battery technology and software to let the user go where they want to go. They can maintain their seat angle automatically when going up and down slopes in 4-wheel mode. The device can rise to eye level, allowing users to interact with others and move at a standing height. And depending on ability, a user can ascend and descend stairs independently or with the help of a trained assistant.

VA celebrates the Operation Mobility Tour kick off at VA’s East Orange Spinal Cord Injury/Disorder Center.

Mobility Tour to visit 20 cities

Phillips (pictured above) enjoyed his newfound freedom at the “Operation Mobility Tour” kickoff held at the East Orange Medical Center Spinal Cord Injuries/Disorders Center (SCI/D Center).

The kickoff is part of a tour headed to VHA’s SCI/D Centers across the nation.

He attended the event in his iBOT PMD after receiving a prescription and training from his clinical team at VA East Orange.

The Operation Mobility Tour will have Veterans across the nation benefiting from a donation of 50 iBOT PMDs donated by Mobius Mobility. At each location, an iBOT PMD will be donated to an SCI/D Center and another earmarked for donation to a local Veteran.

Partnerships improve the quality of life for Veterans

Dr. Carolyn Clancy welcomed all to the kickoff event and accepted the first donation, presented by Dean Kamen, inventor of the iBOT PMD. Dr. Clancy is acting VA Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

“This is another great example of how public and private partnerships improve the quality of life for our Veterans. We are incredibly grateful for this donation,” Dr. Clancy said. “VA’s New England Center for Innovation Excellence (NECIE) offers the innovation community a clinical trial partner, practical health care provider and real-world patient input. It allows VA to secure priority access to the latest life-saving medical treatment and high-tech devices for our Veterans.”

Ian Betz, Veteran and long-time iBOT PMD user, was in attendance and spoke to the gathering. He rolled up to the podium at full height level.

“When I saw this podium I was thinking, gee, I can actually be behind the podium, overlook the podium and see everybody,” Betz said. “If I didn’t have the iBOT, I would be standing, or excuse me, sitting on either side of the podium with a microphone, so this is a nice experience.”

“We wanted to find innovative ideas, products and services.”

Newly developed, NECIE is the first-of-its-kind Veteran Integrated System Network Center for VA and is led by the VA New England Healthcare System. Its virtual home and educational hub is the VA Manchester Healthcare System.

Ryan Lilly, NECIE director, spoke to the development of the center and the importance of its work.

“We wanted to find innovative ideas, products and services that would improve the quality of life, health and well-being for our Veterans,” Lilly said. “This partnership with Mobius Mobility represents the first engagement for the center with more partnerships benefitting Veterans in the pipeline.”

iBOT PMD uses advanced electronics and software to let the user go where they want to go.

The Operation Mobility Tour will be making its way across the nation visiting more than 20 SCI/D Centers:

Bronx and Syracuse, NY
Hampton, VA
Augusta, GA
Tampa and Miami
Dallas and Houston
St. Louis
San Diego and Palo Alto
Hines, IL
San Juan, PR

NECIE is designed to further the opportunity for public-private partnerships to transform care and service for our nation’s Veterans. For information about VA public-private partnership opportunities, please contact

For more information about VA’s life-long continuum of services for Veterans with a spinal cord injuries or disorders, please visit

Kristin Pressly is a public affairs officer for the VA New England Center for Innovation Excellence/Manchester Healthcare System.

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Published on Jun. 18, 2021

Estimated reading time is 3.5 min.

Views to date: 303


  1. Sheryl Mayer July 15, 2021 at 3:45 am

    I think this is absolutely a game-changer for so many people with spinal cord injuries. BUT there is someone you missed. Go on YouTube and look up Mason Ellis. He is INCREDIBLE!! He is a quadriplegic. What makes Mason so extraordinary is that he created “how-to” videos to help others with spinal cord injuries live able-bodied lives. No one else has ever done this. He has over 4,000 followers. He works and is an honor student in his third year of college. He needs a chair with a stand-up feature. Insurance won’t cover that feature.

  2. William E McKibbon June 21, 2021 at 11:17 am

    It would be great if it would be avail to all vets with disabilities that would help me get around my own property. It would be cool to take my over weight dogs for walks.
    A guy can only do so much and HELP is always welcome.
    Where can I get mine?
    My wife just paid lots of money for a tiny wheeled junk that can’t leave the sidewalk and is a death ride if you hit a tree branch.
    Key fob operation would be best for me, joystick would be a killer for the hands.
    When will Durham VA have these?

  3. Francis June 18, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    It would be great if it would be avail to all vets with disabilities that would help the get around

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