Johns Hopkins University undergraduates have designed and built a device to enable critically ill, intensive care unit patients to leave their beds and walk, while remaining tethered to essential life-support equipment. The invention allows doctors to better understand whether carefully supervised rehabilitation, as opposed to continuous sedation and bed rest, can improve the recovery of intensive care patients.
The device has a novel mobility aid that combines the rehabilitative features of a walker and the safety features of a wheelchair, and a separate wheeled tower to which life-support equipment such as oxygen tanks and cardiac monitors can be attached. The walker-type framework resembles devices that frail or elderly people use to get around. It adds a fabric seat that enables a tired patient to sit down, or catches a patient who abruptly collapses because of a medical problem.