The Council for Higher Education in Israel recently named an ORT Braude undergraduate as one of ten students who made an outstanding contribution to the community during the 2018-19 academic year. Mechanical engineering student Ben Emergi was selected by a division of the CHE’s Planning & Budgeting Committee dedicated to academic social involvement.
On the one hand, Ben Emergi is a typical ORT Braude student, working to complete his degree in mechanical engineering. On the other, he has gone above and beyond in his efforts for the college’s flagship activity: MEHALEV (“From the Heart”) – Engineering Solutions for People with Disabilities. As a qualified physiotherapist (BPT, University of Haifa), Ben serves as a consultant for all MEHALEV projects (around 14 in total), while also leading three projects designed to improve rehabilitation following a stroke, amputation, or fracture. He also participated in a social action course – Rehabilitation Biomechanics – in which he developed a game for children with disabilities.
Ben’s three projects are:
1) Development of a system that interfaces with a standard treadmill and gives the user audiovisual feedback on the grip strength of both hands. The system is intended for people who are experiencing weakness in one hand after a stroke, and helps them to regain a symmetrical gait while also improving symmetrical grip. In this way, the system encourages safer, symmetrical walking and may contribute to enhancing the independence of stroke survivors, helping them return to a normal daily routine. The system was developed for the Rehabilitation Department at Galilee Medical Center, Nahariya, and the request for clinical research into its effects has now reached the final approval stage with the Galilee & Negev Development Fund.
2) Development of an obstacle course-based training program designed for walking rehabilitation after an amputation, stroke, or fracture. The adjustable system provides feedback on how well each person performs on each obstacle during walking practice. It is intended for use in Galilee Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Department, where it will help many people recover their balance and mobility, and regain their independence.
3) A system that interfaces with the Ilizarov apparatus, commonly used to help patients with complex fractures in the ankle area. The project is intended for use in the Orthopedics Department of Ziv Medical Center, Safed, which is headed by Prof. Alexander Lerner. Now in development and production, the adjustable device will allow the patient to put weight on their injured leg while also permitting adjustment of the weight-bearing area. This will decrease the patient’s recovery time and speed up bone growth.
As if Ben wasn’t busy enough, he has also developed an innovative game that encourages children with motor disabilities to practice their walking skills. The game was created for the Israel Elwyn Association’s Dekel Early Intervention Center in Karmiel. It challenges children to collect a set of colorful balls, which move through transparent tubes to different stations set up around a table. Each child must pull out a ball from one station, move to the next station, and then feed the ball into the tube there. In this way, a simple yet captivating game motivates children with developmental delays to get up and walk.