Robotics Help Paraplegic Surgeon Get Back on His Feet

Last month, biomedical engineering students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison showcased a robotic system they built at the Biomedical Engineering (BME) Undergraduate Design Poster Presentations, an expo that summarized 39 design projects from teams of biomedical engineering students for clients in the UW-Madison medical school.

The students built the Standing Paraplegic Omni-directional Transport (SPOT) system in response to a tragic injury sustained by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Garrett Cuppels in 2010, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. A combination of a four-wheeled, joystick-controlled robotic platform utilizing omni-directional mecanum wheels with a modified paraplegic standing frame allows Cuppels to move around more quickly and efficiently. The breakthrough could potentially allow him to perform standing surgeries again.

Sarah Cechowski is the associate digital editor for Control Design and Industrial Networking. Email her at or check out her Google+ profile.