A cool new contraption called the GlideCycle is putting a novel spin on outdoor exercise for amputees and others with mobility limitations. Users sit in a patented sling-type seat that essentially lifts them into a smooth-arch suspension, letting them power forward on one or two legs with virtually no impact to injured limbs and joints.
Ashland, Ore., resident and runner David Vidmar conceived of the two-wheel mobility device following a knee injury. He and others with sports injuries can rehabilitate by favoring the uninjured limb and adding more weight as the healing advances.
But most striking are the GlideCycle's applications for people with disabilities. The Web site includes testimonials from people with conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, who report that the GlideCycle has given them the freedom to get outside independently and run for miles.
"It gets my heart moving, it gets my leg moving," said Michael Foster, whose right leg was amputated at the hip 10 years ago following a work accident. "It feels good being to able to have the breeze in your face as you go. I love being outdoors. I wouldn't want to be on a treadmill or something inside and look at a TV screen while I'm walking."
GlideCycle was one of six Oregon companies to make it to the final round of Angel Oregon 2009, a funding competition for start-up companies sponsored by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and held in Portland last week.
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., has reportedly purchased one of the $1,649 gadgets, and veterans hospitals in Roseburg and Medford, Ore., and Palo Alto and Menlo Park, Calif., have ordered a total of 20 for testing.
Balancing on one leg looks like it could be a bit tricky. But if the video below is any indication, it just takes a little practice--and it's ultimately a lot like gliding forward with one foot on a pedal and the other used to start and stop.