Tag Archives: broadened horizons

SCI Superstar: Mark E. Felling

mark

The “mad scientist” of adapted technology, Mark Felling, Engineer, Patented Inventor and Founder of adapted gear profferer Broadened Horizons, is a quadriplegic on a mission. Ever since crashing his experimental plane a decade ago, he’s been determined to use his engineering skills to make his life, and other’s like his, easier.

Several life-changing technologies for people with disabilities have been invented by Mark, and he continues to create more each year, all to empower people with disabilities. From a powered tenodesis hand splint he calls the “Power Grip” to some of the best adapted video game equipment ever made, this is the story of Mark Felling, the man who never stops dreaming.

Why he’s fearless

It takes a fearless man to be a great scientist, and Mark was fearless long before his injury. Growing up on a dairy farm in Albany, Minnesota, Mark was always interested in how things worked. After high school, he wanted to study electrical engineering and did so at North Dakota State University, loving every moment of it.

He also studied international business at NDU. International travel and languages were and still are another thing Mark lives for. For this degree, he studied in Mexico, which is where he became fluent in Spanish. And after receiving his BAs, he attended Regis University to get his MBA. During his studies, this travelaholic went to Russia to study, focusing on the Russian language and culture.

But a year after returning home from Moscow, while flying a experimental plane along the Minnesota River Valley, Mark’s life was forever altered when his plane crashed after an engine failure upon takeoff. Instead of crashing into the water which is a big no-no in emergency landings (you could pass out and drown), Mark instead crashed into the trees alongside the river, flipping his plane and breaking his C4-5 vertebrae on impact.

Right away living life as a quad, Mark started thinking about tools that would make his life easier. While he was in occupational therapy, he had the idea to add a motor to a tenodesis splint so someone of his level of injury could use it, and not only did his idea work, he’s now selling it – the Power Grip.

His site, Broadened Horizons, has become one of the most impressive adapted tool sellers online, and it attracts many newly injured people. Mark also invented universal adapted video game controllers, one made for those with limited arm/finger movement and another made for those with no arm movement at all –  the Ultimate Arcade. Any game can be played with these too.

To use his phone independently, Mark has also created a cell tool – Vocalized – that allows individuals with no arm movement to use any phone they desire with their voice, as well as other awesome things like adaptive aviation tools to assist quads who want to fly and a great sling – the Comfort Carrier – for transferring into airplanes or for any other awkward transfers.

What’s next?

While he’s continually working on new devices and is a busy cure advocate in Minnesota, speaking at the Capitol earlier this year, Mark has also traveled a lot in the last 5 years, from Columbia to India, to both be a tourist and to promote disability awareness and adapted technology, which is huge deal in countries like these (he also has no problem getting stared at, which happens a lot in lesser developed countries).

It can be difficult becoming injured later than life, especially after establishing a career, but Mark proves that any of us can become good at adapting if we just find ourselves an open mind. The key, no the secret, is staying busy and having a purpose, and Mark has definitely created that for himself in a hugely important way. What he’s done for the disability community is indispensable.

– Visit his site: Broadened Horizons

Have you used any items from Broadened Horizons?

Watch the videos!

Mark Felling Interview with WCCO/CBS

Mark Felling Interview for Assistive Technology Oral History Project

Mark becomes attraction at Jama Mazid Mosque Delhi, India

Enhanced by Zemanta

Quads who know offices: Accessible offices

Not even confetti and champagne can make paperwork enjoyable. And when you’re paralyzed, watch out for all the “fun” that comes your way when you go to use your office. You thought paperwork was fun before? Try doing it with paralyzed hands…

What’s great about a home office is that you can set up everything exactly the way you want it.  And there are two quadriplegics who’ve made videos of their accessible offices and how they work for their mobility.  Here are two of my faves!

The first video comes from Bonnie, a female quadriplegic with one of the most organized accessible offices I’ve ever seen. She’s a C6 quadriplegic and has baskets with handles on them throughout her office (easy to grab).  The baskets organize everything and she puts them on-top of her desk or places them in the desk drawers (so she can pull them out easily too).  In the baskets she stores everything from pens and papers to even her sprinkler remote controllers.  And for her wireless keyboard, she taped put a cloth loop onto it to mimic a handle (and used clear packing tape to adhere it to the back).

The second video comes from Mark Felling, a C5-6 quad and founder of Broadened Horizons. Before his injury, Mark was an engineer – and he’s created some amazing things since his plane crash One of the coolest things he’s made is an automatic height-adjustable desk.  The desk is moved using a remote control, so you can adjust the height depending on the chair you’re using.  This desk is ideal for anyone who uses a standing frame or a standing wheelchair regularly.  You can stand up your chair, then raise your desk to the level you need it.  In the video, you’ll also see how the middle section of the desk rises higher than the rest of the desk,  making it easy for someone in a wheelchair to see the monitor.

Working hard isn’t easy, but if you watch these videos you’ll have any setup that at least works just for you, making it possible to work just as hard as everyone else. Oh joy 🙂

Watch the videos!

Bonnie’s “Office Accessibility & Organization” video for people with hand paralysis
Mark of Broadened Horizons shows off his automatic height-adjustable desk for wheelchair-users

What accessible offices have you used? How did you adapt your home office?