GUEST OF HONOR

 

Her Royal Highness
Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
Kingdom of Thailand

Biography

 
 

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan

Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
Singapore

Biography

 

PLENARY SPEAKERS

i-CREATe 2009 will feature plenary talks by the following experts in the diverse field of Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology. Please note that this schedule is subject to changes without any notification.

Mr. Kua Cheng Hock  

Mr. Kua Cheng Hock

President, Independent Society for the Blind, Singapore

Plenary 1: 2:15PM – 2:45PM
Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium
Topic: Towards More Rewarding and Accessible Tourism – Experiences and Expectations Of a Blind Traveller

Abstract

The audiance will get to hear of the challenges he encountered, the hurdles crossed, his experiences and expectations as a blind traveller. Service providers in the travel/tourism sectors will pick up valuable ideas if they intend to provide a high level of quality service to blind guests/patrons.

Those in the social-service sectors will appreciate that travelling for the blind can be fulfilling, rewarding and can be done successfully by blind persons alone or in a group; and can provide more tips and hints to their clients when preparing them for their travels.

Biography

Blind from birth, Mr Kua Cheng Hock picked up the skills of travelling alone within Singapore since the age of fifteen, with only his white cane, and sometimes, sighted help along the roads. He now also travels with his guide dog; and a braille/talking GPS system. He made his first trip out of Singapore by himself at the age of twenty (in 1975) by train to Kuala Lumpur, then met up with a group and travelled to Cameron Highlands; and then took a flight by himself back to Singapore. His work and voluntary contributions required him to travel to many more countries since 1991. These include many cities in Malaysia; and amongst other places include Bangkok, Cairo, Colombo, Samoa, Cambodia, and many other developed cities and countries in Europe - Portugal, Lulea, Stockholm, France ...., cities in the U.S. and Canada; Caracas (Venezuela) and the Dominican Republic. He was also caught up in the 911 "air traffic-jam". Another unforgetable incident was when he was denied entry by the South African Imigrations officer into Cape Town after travelling for nearly eighteen hours for a world conference, and how he managed to overcome that hurdle, after being put back on the same jetplane that took him there.



Professor Etienne Burdet  

Professor Etienne Burdet

Senior Lecturer, Department of Bioengineering,Imperial College London, UK
Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Plenary 2: 1:45PM – 2:15PM
Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium
Topic: Human Centered Rehabilitation Robotics

Abstract

Stroke is a leading cause for adult disability and affects about 0.2% of the population in developed countries every year. Stroke survivors generally suffer from weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. They undergo rehabilitation at the hospital in one-on-one exercises with a physiotherapist; however, they are usually sent home as soon as they can walk, often before they could recover the hand functions. This critically affects their activities of daily living (ADL) such as eating, manipulating objects, or writing. Robotic devices can be used to increase the intensity of therapy, thus can help improving the strength and functional use of the affected limbs. However, most rehabilitation robots developed so far are large and bulky (so not transportable), expensive, and may require the presence of a technician.

This talk will first describe our human-centred approach to robot-assisted rehabilitation of hand and finger functions, critical to ADL. We designed a family of robotic devices to train the tasks stroke survivors need to recover most, which consider subjects' specific biomechanical constraints and their needs for safety and comfortable interaction. These compact and transportable devices are easy to use and adaptable to various levels of impairments. Motivating game-like exercises enable subjects to interact with the robot, actively performing movements or generate force while receiving appropriate visual, sensorimotor and psychological feedback to enhance motivation and concentration.

We will then examine the experiments done with this robotic system in Vancouver, Canada, and at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in Singapore. In Vancouver, a few chronic stroke patients could perform a personalized robot-assisted therapy at all levels of the arm, i.e. arm, hand and fingers, and significantly improved their motor performance in the 8 weeks of the robot-assisted therapy. A larger study, involving 15 chronic patients at TTSH, demonstrated long lasting improvement of the hand, wrist and arm functions, while patients reported using the affected limb more after the therapy.

Though these results are preliminary, they suggest that cost-effective robot-assisted rehabilitation can be developed at decentralized rehabilitation centres or at home (monitored remotely), which will contribute to increasing the wellness, activity and life quality of stroke survivors.

Biography

Dr. Etienne Burdet (http://www.bg.ic.ac.uk/staff/burdet/Home.html) is Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London since 2005 and a Senior Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore. His group uses an approach integrating neuroscience and robotics to: i) investigate human motor control and ii) design efficient assistive devices and virtual reality based training for rehabilitation and surgery. This approach has generated significant achievements from basic neuroscience and technology to clinical translation, including:



Dr. Kong Keng-He  

Dr. Kong Keng-He

Senior Consultant, Tan Tock Seng Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, Singapore

Plenary 3: 2:45PM – 3:15PM
Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium
Topic: The Role of Technology in Rehabilitation – Perspective from a Rehabilitation Physician

Abstract

Rehabilitation is the process of optimizing function within the context of one's potential. Key components to successful rehabilitation are task-specific activities, frequent and intensive repetition of such activities, an appropriate and contextually relevant learning environment and ability and motivation to learn. However, for various reasons, most rehabilitation programmes, especially those involving adults with neurological disabilities do not address these issues adequately. Rehabilitation technology can be used to overcome some of these inadequacies. For example, robotics can be used to improve upper limb strength and function in a manner that is consistent, reliable and many times more that what is achievable than conventional rehabilitation. Similar technology exists for training of ambulation. Advances in tele-rehabilitation will also mean that one day, rehabilitation can be conducted in the comfort of the patient's home – the most contextually relevant of environment.

Biography

Dr. Kong Keng-He is a leading local rehabilitation physician specializing in neurorehabilitation. He was formerly the head of, and currently, senior consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, which is the largest tertiary rehabilitation centre in Singapore. He has established research interests and publications in the area of functional outcomes and spasticity in stroke. More recently, he is involved in research evaluating the role of computer gaming and assistive technology and robotics in stroke rehabilitation. He is currently the chairperson of the Specialists Training Committee, Ministry of Health, overseeing the training of rehabilitation physicians, and members of several committees, including that of Ministry of Health Advisory Committee on National Stroke Strategy, Nanyang Polytechnic School of Health Sciences Occupational Advisory Panel and National Healthcare Group Stroke Disease Management Workgroup.



Dr. Therdchai Jivacate  

Dr. Therdchai Jivacate

Secretary General, Prosthesis Foundation, Thailand

Plenary 4: 4:00PM – 4:30PM
Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium
Topic: The Prostheses Foundation of H.R.H. the Princess Mother

Abstract

The Prostheses Foundation was founded in 1992 by the Princess Mother. She was the Honorary Chairman and the Princess Galayani Vadhana was the Chairman. One of the significant aims is to provide artificial legs free of charge to the underprivileged regardless of religion and nationality.

In order the underprivileged to have the artificial legs as quick as possible, the Foundation set up a mobile prosthetic unit to the rural area. Since 1992, the Foundation has provided 22,679 artificial legs, 20,182 through mobile units and 2,497 at the Foundation office. Normally, each mobile unit will take for 5 days this can be served 300 of amputees. Also, the Foundation established the village and district hospital prosthetic workshop so the amputees in the rural area can have artificial leg immediately when they need.

The Foundation has developed the technique of making artificial legs and invented all the prosthetic parts and apparatuses for making artificial leg by using local materials.

Biography

Dr Therdchai Jivacate, a graduate of Chulalongkorn Hospital Medical School who also studied rehabilitation medicine at Northwestern University, began to experiment with cheap and sturdy alternatives to the prosthetic limbs available at his hospital, all of them made from costly imported materials. An early breakthrough involved recycling plastic yogurt bottles to fabricate artificial legs. Using his own money and time taken from his private practice, Dr Therdchai tinkered constantly to simplify the fabrication process and to adapt his devices to local circumstances, creating a "farmer's foot" for working in wet, slippery fields, and another foot for wearing flip-flops. To poor patients, he provided these devices free.

In time, Thailand's late Princess Mother Sri Nagarindra came to know of Dr Therdchai's generous project. In 1992, she lent her patronage to create the Prostheses Foundation in Chiang Mai under his direction. With support from the royal family, private donors, and the Thai national lottery fund, Therdchai was able to expand his work.

Dr Therdchai is also an inventor, assiduously refining his designs and fabrication techniques in cooperation with engineers at the King Mongkut Institute of Technology and other collaborators. His devices cost about 60 - 80% less than the imported alternatives and are durable. Through the Prostheses Foundation, more than fifteen thousand people have received them free of charge.

Although officially retired, Dr Therdchai at 68 shows few signs of slowing down. He knows that well-made prosthetic limbs not only restore amputees to productive lives; they also restore their self esteem. His work brings great satisfaction. "Seeing my patients' smiles ... when they are able to walk on both legs," he says, "I just feel happy".

In electing Dr Therdchai Jivacate to receive the 2008 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, the board of trustees recognizes his dedicated efforts in Thailand to provide inexpensive, practical, and comfortable artificial limbs to even the poorest amputees.



Dr. Gery Colombo  

Dr. Gery Colombo

President, Hocoma, Switzerland

Plenary 5: 4:30PM – 5:00PM
Venue: Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium
Topic: Technology-assisted Neurological Rehabilitation

Abstract

Within the field of rehabilitation for patients with neurological movement disorders (for example after stroke, spinal cord injury, multi sclerosis or cerebral palsy) there have been significant changes within the last 10 years. As physiotherapists used to support the patients manually during their movement training, patients can nowadays profit from new technology and more intensive training. Today robotics and virtual reality are being applied. The presentation will give an overview on the actual technology!

Biography

Dr Gery Colombo is the founder and CEO of Hocoma Switzerland, a leader in robotic rehabilitation therapy for neurological movement disorders and a globally active medical technology company based near Zurich, Switzerland. Hocoma develops innovative therapy solutions working closely with leading clinics and research centers.

Dr Colombo completed his Studies of Electrical Engineering at the technical university (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology/ETH) Zurich and graduated in 1992. He became the Head of Research at the Research department of the Spinal Cord Injury Center, University Clinic Balgrist, Zurich from 1993-2001. He was then promoted to the Dr Sc Techn at the Institute for Biomed Technology of ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Zurich in 2001. In 2004, Dr Gery Colombo was awarded the "Ernst & Young" Entrepreneur of the year in the Start-Ups Category. The awards were made to businessmen in recognition of their outstanding entrepreneurial record.

Dr Colombo is also the creator of the Lokomat, a driven gait orthosis to assist leg movements of persons walking on a treadmill. The Lokomat was built for rehabilitation of patients after stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury or other neurological diseases who have the potential to learn to walk again. With the device, it is possible to fully assist the leg movements of gait impaired persons, even those with no voluntary control at all.