Weekendamerica. Monty’s LIFESUIT: Science Fiction to Fact article repost

Weekendamerica. Monty’s LIFESUIT: Science Fiction to Fact article repost  Jeremy Richards JUNE 14, 2008

complete article and pics can be found at:

quick link to this post http://theyshallwalk.org/?p=342

This weekend, San Francisco hosts the 2008 RoboGames. Last year’s event attracted more than 3,000 spectators — they came to see robots and their human inventors compete in races, weightlifting and all-out robo-smackdowns.

Lifesuit prototype 14 in action
(Cecilia Lehman)

But one returning champion from Seattle has a bigger mission in mind. Reporter Jeremy Richards has the story:

Like any good superhero story, Monty Reed’s journey starts with a single terrifying event. In 1983, fresh out of high school, Monty joined the Army, eventually securing a place with the elite Airborne Rangers. He had 38 successful jumps. But something went wrong on his 39th jump.

“We were doing a night jump,” Reed says. “It was battalion-wide, so it was hundreds of parachutes in the air, and somebody’s parachute came too close to me, and that stole the air. So my canopy collapsed, and I hit the ground.”

On impact, Monty broke his back in several places. He spent a year recovering at a hospital in Ford Ord, Calif.

“While I was in the hospital, paralyzed legs, fingers on both hands paralyzed, the doctors told me your condition is permanent and it will get worse. So get used to it.”

Monty didn’t accept this. He took out a pad of paper and wrote across the top: “Monty Shall Walk.” To distract himself from the pain, he found solace in science-fiction novels. That’s when inspiration hit:

“While I was in the hospital I read Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. And I got so excited about this suit that he described — a mechanized, powered armor that allowed the soldiers to carry 2,000 pounds of equipment. And I thought if I could build a scaled-down version that could just carry 170 pounds of me, then I would be set and I could walk again.”

It turns out the doctor’s prognosis was wrong. Monty had a miraculous recovery and started walking again within a month. But it would take almost 10 years of rehabilitation before he was fully functional. And even today, 25 years after his accident, Monty sometimes has trouble walking or one of his arms will give out.

Living with this pain, Monty was still determined to build a robotic “lifesuit” to help others. In the hospital bed, he took out that paper again, crossed out his name and wrote “They Shall Walk.” The only catch was that Monty had no idea how he was going to accomplish this. He had no experience in medicine or engineering.

If I were writing a screenplay about Monty’s life, here’s where I’d insert the montage: Monty reading stacks of medical journals. Monty taking classes at North Seattle Community College and the University of Washington. Monty slowly building up his own mobility and spending long hours tinkering with early prototypes of his “LIFESUIT” robot.

Cut to June 2008: Monty and a team of volunteer engineers and outreach coordinators gather in the basement of an abandoned Kung Fu studio beneath a 99 Cent Store. Here, in north Seattle, they have just enough room for a couple of computers, boxes of second-hand medical journals, and a few projects that look like aerobics machines hooked up to tubes and wires.

Though it doesn’t look like much now, Monty’s fully assembled machines took home a few medals at last year’s RoboGames. He shows me the upper-body exoskeleton that allows the wearer to lift 205 pounds. Last year, they took home a gold medal for weightlifting and a timed walking competition.

“It’s sort of our NASCAR event,” he says. “It’s just a competition for us. The lifesuit’s not designed for a paralyzed person to go and compete in weightlifting. But what we’re doing is pushing the limits of the suit so that we can demonstrate just how much we can do with it.”

Meanwhile, Monty turns to medical professionals like Dr. Steven Stiens to help with the clinical applications of the technology. Dr. Stiens is an associate professor of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Washington, one of the staff physicians at the Veteran’s Administration. With a few more improvements, according to Dr. Steins, these walking robots may be able to really help people — people like him.

“Well, you know I’m sitting here in a wheelchair and paralyzed,” he says. “And I walked with long leg braces for years. Monty heard that I had an interest in weight-support ambulation and bracing, and he described to me what he wanted to build: a lifesuit.”

Back in the lab, Monty fires up lifesuit prototype 14: a makeshift exoskeleton with a backpack harness, a scuba tank of compressed air and two pneumatic systems. These systems that attach to cylinders that act like muscles to extend the ankle, knee, and hip joints.

“We have a clamshell for holding the lower part of the leg in place,” says Monty. “We could have spent $2,500 for custom molding and design, but it felt better just to grab a hockey shin guard and strap it on with Velcro.”

Monty steadies his balance, then takes slow mechanical steps “One step forward, another step forward, another step forward,” says Dr. Stiens as Monty lumbers ahead and shuffles side to side. “So what he’s doing is he’s passively releasing the air as he flexes at the hips and knees, and then when he powers up, all of the cylinders raise his center of gravity.”

It may not be glamorous, but it’s pretty cool. They hope to get enough funding to perfect the lifesuits and get them in hospitals by 2010 and ready for home use by 2015.

“In the future — and keep in mind the future, because this is based on science fiction where we take the “fiction” out — is nanotech biosynthetic muscle fibers… (complete article)


If you enjoy this article please send comments to Monty K Reed or Jeromy Richards

You can donate online to support the work at www.TheyShallWalk.org

Watch KCPQ13 to Find Out About the LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton

Doug Bell (background left) Monty K Reed (in the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton and Charlie Holzschuh

Watch KCPQ13 to Find Out About the LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton November 15 2010


Re-post from Fox KCPQ13 News by Dana Rebik

Monty Reed has been fascinated by robots since he was a little boy.  Little did he know someday, he’d be building them

himself.  It was 25 years ago, as an Army Ranger, when Monty would begin his life’s work.

“This time my parachute was closed at 100 feet.  I hit the ground and broke my ankle, broke my back,” says Reed.

Left in a hospital bed with a body that didn’t work, Monty had a lot of time to think.

“A friend of mine gave me the Robert Heinlein book called ‘Starship Troopers’ and in chapter seven he described this powered armor.  In the pages of that book began my vision for this robotic suit.”

A month after his accident, Monty was able to walk again and he hit the ground running.  Using carpenter levels he bought at a dollar store and an old CD, Monty built his first robotic leg.  Slowly one turned to two and now there are 15 prototypes all together.  The hope is for paralyzed and disabled people to use one of these “LIFESUITS” to walk.

Electrical engineer Doug Bell  has been helping Monty fine tune his designs over the years.

“I didn’t know what could come of it but when he started throwing parts together and they started actually lifting him, I could see there was something really important there,” says Bell.

The latest LIFESUIT model is built using the back of one of his kid’s old car seats, some hockey pads, and other donated parts.  It’s still a little bulky, but it works.

“When I get in the robot suit and it picks me up and moves my legs it’s so exciting.  You’re eye to eye with the rest of the world, your body is not degenerating is another improvement as far as quality of life,” says Reed.  “My dream is to give the gift of walking.  It’s really exciting to see the dream come true.”

There are 40 people who volunteer at Monty’s organization, “They Shall Walk”, including engineering students from the University of Washington.  Monty’s latest accomplishment is a partnership with a hospital in Vellore, India which has requested some of his “LIFESUITS” for a medical trial.

LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton sensors for LS15

The sensors I want to use are ‘absolute optical encoders’ and they run about $285 each.  For the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton to have redundancy I need 44 units.  For me redundancy is everything for safety sake.  I forces the robot to double check everything.  That is sort of an over simplified version of how it works but that is it.  Since giving is down and we have now government funding for the last three years I am on my own for the sensors.

Fortunately I am a collector.  Most of the time this is bad, because of all the junk I end up saving.  I had a new engineering student join the team and come to the lab a couple of years ago.  We were in a smaller location, just over a thousand (1000) square feet.  He looked at the shelves of stuff I use for prototyping and said when I asked him how he would reorganize it “I would get a twenty foot dumpster and throw it all out”.

LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton LS14B
LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton LS14B worn by Monty K Reed with Ben Edes and Doug Bell

It is kind of funny.  A few weeks after that our team was working on a new problem for paraplegics who want to transfer from a wheelchair to the bed, the toilet, the bathtub, a car seat or a park bench.  Because of the collection of prototype stuff we were able to spend a few minutes looking for parts inside the lab and in a couple of hours we had a working prototype.  That device is in testing and could be available to help a paralyzed person to perform the average eighteen (18) transfers a day that most of them perform.  It may be covered by insurance too.

My point about being lucky that I am a collector is that, in my collection of parts I have boxes of resistors.  Well millions of resistors, if you need some you can have them free.  Please send me an email at [email protected] and let me know what value range you are interested in.  If I have it I will send you a hundred (100) or a few thousand (1000+).    I digress, my point is that I have pots (potentiometers) that are used to adjust volume on audio equipment.  Not the best for thousands of reps but for a robot that needs to walk a few feet a few hundred times it might work.  I have 400 of one size that seems to work.

We build a proto board (solder-less breadboard ) and attached it to the ‘brain pak’ of the LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton.  By sensing the feedback through the pot we come up with a number that represents the rotary position of the dial on the pot.  Imagine a volume control on you ipod or an older stereo where you turn it counter clockwise all the way and the volume value is zero (0) then you turn it all the way clockwise and the value is 100.  If your volume knob turns 300 degrees or so like the ones we have in the box then you can imagine drawing a circle around the knob and marking the degrees of rotation.

We built a table (chart) with the feedback (FB) value of the pot on the left and the angle in degrees (AD) on the right…

LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton sensors
LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton sensors (right and upper) LS15 axle and bearing (lower left)
FB  –     AD
0     –     0
23   –     15
54   –    30
79   –    45
293 –   180
564  –  360

The scale looks off at first glance, but when you test it over and over the values are consistent.  I noticed that each of the pots will give a value range that is close enough to the degrees we want so I was able to modify the software code adjust the movement of the robots legs.  For instance in the line of software code I told the actuator to move (extend) until the value of the pot was greater than 77 and less than 81.  For that particular joint and that particular sensor the actuator would stop at 45 degrees.

It is amazing that we could save $12,540 on sensors because I am a collector.

We just had the annual fire inspection at the lab.  The Seattle Fire Department Firefighters are great.  I am impressed with firefighters as a whole because they are very much like soldiers, willing to give it up, give it all up to protect people they do not know.  I am glad my stuff is orderly stored and safely accessible.

Lab tour visitors
Lab tour volunteers and visitors

We have a school called “Room Nine” that will be coming to the lab for a field trip this next week.  I look forward to speaking to the kids, teachers and parents about science and technology and what we do at They Shall Walk.  Next week I will also be visiting the Alderwood Middle School to do an assembly.

The volunteers we have in the lab are the people that make this thing happen, without them I could not do what I do.   I want to thank all of the volunteers.

Suddenly Paralyzed While Mountain Biking by Monty K Reed

While mountain biking at the Snoqualmie Summit I felt a tingling in my left hand then the left leg and it was on a hill while I was pedaling up in the lowest gear.  My body fell forward and I caught myself with the left elbow on the top of the handle bars.  My right arm and right leg were both still working strong.  I turned the handle bars hard to the right and headed across the hill, not up, not down, just across.  Then a little down  so gravity would help me.  This all before I thought about it.

This type of thing has been happening for two decades to me.   I woke up this morning with a lot of problems in my left hand and left leg.  They just don’t work all of the time.  For me it is because of the parachute accident I had two decades ago while serving in the US Army Airborne Rangers.

The soft tissue damage in my neck has a tendency to tense up and pinch off the nerves, basically disconnecting my brain from the rest of my body.  It causes pain and partial paralysis.

The nice thing about sudden paralysis on a bike is that you are less likely to fall down.  When I used to run and walk, the sudden paralysis always hurts because no matter what I usually fell down.

I managed to coast back down from 3300 feet to 3000 feet elevation of the summit.  The problem was that I needed to go uphill to get back to the SnoqualmieRetreat.com where I like to stay.  It is close to the city, has a hot tub and lots of fresh air.  I will be posting more picture on my facebook page photo album so far all the pics are from the winter.

Fortunately my right leg and arm had a second wind.  I managed to get back to the retreat and get into the hot tub to relax.

For my health and injury prevention I have had to rethink my exercise routine.  For better health we are all supposed to walk or exercise 20 minutes a day.  I need to schedule in relaxation time too.  I get so caught up in the mission of TheyShallWalk.org to ‘give the gift of walking’ I forget to be thankful that I have the gift of walking myself and that I have a moral obligation to take good care of the gift I have.  I need to take care of my health first if I think I am going to be able to help anyone else.

Since walking and running give me such a hard time I will swim, or go with the bike.

I used to be a long distance runner.  My idea of a short run in highs school was 17 miles.

I would do that run for the fun of it.  I had a couple of routes I would take from my Wallingford home back then.  I would run south to lake union where I could see the seaplanes taking off and landing.  They used to be “Lake Union Air” and now are Kenmore air www.kenmoreair.com .  When I got to the lake I would turn left towards Fremont http://www.fremontseattle.com/

Even back then I could smell the Greek food from Costas Opa http://www.costasopa.com/ I would cross the Fremont bridge and then head West towards the Ballard bridge.  I just loved the water.  In the summer months I would hit the rope swing and dive into the canal to cool off.  On the way to the Ballard bridge I would very often take a detour up Queen Ann  Hill to work on my calves.

Some of the houses on the hill were, and still are amazing.  Sometimes I would take another detour to the Seattle Water front.  On the really long distance days I would continue to the 1st ave south bridge.

Sometime I would run up Roxbary up to West Seattle and then on to Alki.  Other days I would turn East and head into the Rainer valley.  Then North to pill hill and onto capital hill.  The hills were my favorite thing about running in Seattle.  The bridges and the water are my next favorites.

Coming down from the hills I would choose to run through the arboretum and then cross the Montlake cut bridge or the University Bridge. Usually I would choose Montlake so I could run through the UW campus and then the Ave in the University district http://www.udistrictchamber.org/.  I am amazed that I had all that energy to run so far back then.

Crossing the U district bridge and heading south on Eastlake past the restaurants like Daly’s Drive-In(now closed) and rounding the southern tip of lake union around to Westlake.  At that point I would usually slow down to check my ankles and calves to see if I should head back to Wallingford via Fremont or if I should run to the Seattle Center http://www.seattlecenter.com/.

There is no way to describe the elation I felt when I still had enough ‘juice’ to run through the Seattle Center.  It is there during those runs that I learned to control my hunger.  A couple of blocks away and you could always smell the cotton candy, popcorn and hot dogs at the fair.  Other discipline was developed because everything in me that was still a kid wanted to stop and play on the rides or at the arcade.  Instead I would head to the fountain.

No matter the weather I would get wet if the water was running.  They turned it off if it was freezing.  That was my ‘stop gap’ on whether I would get into the water or not.  If it was there I would get wet.
At that point I was usually coughing a little blood because I suffered from a mild form of asthma as a child.  Many times I would wake in the middle of the night gasping for air.

My running was a personal battle against asthma.  By the time I was in high school I had almost beaten it.

After the fountain I had to run a little faster to dry off or to keep my body temperature high enough so I would not get sick.  The amazing site whenever I slowed down on that last leg of the run was to see all of the steam pouring off of my body, especially in the fall or winter.  I would run up to a red light and jog in place while I waited for it to change.

The steam was so thick sometimes it was hard to see when the light changed.

I experienced a second wind, third wind, fourth and fifth.  It was shocking to see that I could actually feel I had no energy left and then when I decided to ‘flip a switch’ I could run with an new burst of energy and stamina.   I never tried to see if there was ‘no limit’ to the ‘second wind’  I just have personally tested it to the ‘sixth wind’

After I was paralyzed in the parachute accident it was painful to imagine returning to  Seattle and be able to see the hills and bridges and not run them.

Today I take my bike.

I am even thinking about getting an “Undrivers License” http://undriving.org/

For more about my Journey as a LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton Test Pilot, stories of rehab, suffering and overcoming check my blog http://theyshallwalk.org/blog/ and click on http://theyshallwalk.org/category/test-pilot-journey-lifesuit-driver/

Gratitude Experiment

Nancy Cullinan’s gratitude experiment was just completed.  Imagine, you have to list three things you are grateful for everyday starting with the letter A and doing the whole alphabet.  I have been doing this type of exercise my whole life but never in this way.   Nancy did it in a way that is so easy.  If you doubt the power of gratitude I dare you to try it.  You will see after a couple of days, or weeks if you have as many problems as I do, you will not be able to continue to have ‘stinkin thinkin’ your attitude will change.  Your life will get better too.

I am grateful for: Nancy and her willingness to do the gratitude experiment. dictionary online is not good for looking at a list try http://www.langmaker.com/wordlist/basiclex.htm it has a great list to get ideas for the different letters

I am grateful for the Army and all the young men and women who are willing to risk life and limb so that we are free to be on facebook and watch youtube and all the other amazing things that go with freedom. Freedom is not free.

The list put up by Nancy Cullinan is so great I had to pull them all together and here they are.  Thank’s Nancy.

Gratitude brought to you by the letter A -Z
Kettle corn
Love (universal)
Patsy H
Rocko (without whom I would not be here today)
Underwear (sexy)
Unconditional Love
Victory (over evil of course)
Xanadu (without the roller skates)
Zephyr winds
Zeppelin (as in Led of course)
Zamboni (always wanted to drive one)

Read Nancy’s list or make your own.  Focus on what you are grateful for today.  You will have a better day.

Biosynthetic Muscle Motors part 2

Biosynthetic Muscle Motors part 2 Fibers: The Future LIFESUIT   Blog by Monty K Reed

“So what is your vision for the future as far as the LIFESUIT is concerned?”  I was asked by a friend.  We had been talking about the Prosthetic’s Program being funded by the government and implemented through DARPA and DEKA.  The program has $100 million in research money.  What makes me think we, at They Shall Walk, can make a dent in this kind of research.  Last year the budget was $150k at They Shall Walk, but donors only gave a little over $12,000 and I could only supplement $8,000 of my own money to the project.  The shortfall was insurmountable.  The plans for research progress had to change.  There would be now LIFESUITs installed in hospitals in 2010 as planned in the time line.  If the money comes it may be possible in 2011.

All of that aside, the plan will continue forward regardless of when the money comes.

The challenge with current anesthetic’s (replacement limbs) and orthosis (braces and support devices like the LIFESUIT) that go beyond the cable and hook and aluminum and rivets tech level, is the power.  It always comes down to the power level.  The DARPA project has come up with amazing developments.  One of the options they came up with was using combustible gas in pneumatic actuator systems, I read about this in a paper in 2005, (sorry I do not have a source, I will add it to a future blog) DARPA has a hydrogen peroxide system that produces gas to power a pneumatic system for a prosthetic arm too.  The hydrogen peroxide system would take a cartridge in the morning, power the arm all day, steam would vent through the synthetic skin like sweat and the user would replace the cartridge in the morning..  When it comes down to the end user, you have a heavy arm that needs to be recharged and hand washed in the sink.  When a power source is developed those problems will go away.

In the mean time the LIFESUIT is being powered by compressed air.  When better power is developed hydraulics and electric actuators will be more of an option.  With off of the shelf technology the LIFESUIT will enable millions of people to have mobility in the gym and at the local PT clinic.

Biosynthetics.  In the depths of the University of Washington library system I had ordered all of the books and papers I could get my hands on about muscles.  “Muscles for Food” “Muscle..this and Muscle that”  It was all great reading.  I was amazed at how interesting one topic can be when seen through so many authors’ eyes.  I think one of the most interesting papers was written by a grad student.  I think it was a masters thesis (sorry no reference I am on a mini retreat and have no access to my library).  She was doing experiments with muscles you grow in a dish.  She started with freshly fertilized quail eggs and some tissue samples from lab rats.  When she got the conditions right and just the right recipe the muscles would grow in 6-10 days and start twitching on their own.  I never saw any other papers by this scientist.  As far as I can tell she went on to work in some other division of science.  When I unpack my library I hope to find her and see if she would like to continue her work.  In the mean time I am picking up where her paper left off.

Our new lab used to be a restaurant and it has the infrastructure for a wet lab.  A surplus incubator from an auction $2.50 and a sink from a garage sale.  A used fridge that used to house our diet root beer at the NSCC lab will house the consumables.

Modifying the experiment from the masters thesis, I will grow muscle fibers and by trial and error experiment with different materials until we find the stuff that will combine with the muscle tissue.  In wet labs, friends of mine who are growing muscles as replacement parts for injured people they have told me the biggest problem they have had is getting the muscles to bond to tendons.  In the body they do just fine, it is in the wet lab that the difficulty shows up.

So it will come down to study of living tissue and the natural bonding in the body vs the way the muscle tissue interacts in a dish.  If it would be possible to build a lattice or frame made of myosin or actin it is likely the muscle fibers will bond to it.  Bottom line it will be a trial and error method.

While visiting Thomas Edison’s lab/ museum I was inspired by the sheer horsepower of his experimental method.  When he decided to do something he would just try every combination possible until he found something that worked.  The light bulb and the battery took thousands of tries.  Edison’s opinion was that every item that did not work was a successful experiment.  He discovered 5000 items that did not work, not 5000 failures but 5000 successes.  What a guy.

Once I have found a way to grow the biosynthetic muscle fiber the next step will be to keep it alive.  Keep it alive, nourished, and powered.  The muscles mechanism of operation is basically like this; Action potential arrives from nerves (electric pulse) this causes a release of calcium ions. the calcium causes the myosin and actin to respond.. shortening the muscle and that is the contraction.  This is the action of the biosynthetic muscle motor.

To keep it alive we have to consider the needs of the cell.   Oxygen, nutrients, and haling away waste products.  I will try to keep the environment pure so we do not have to consider the immune system or biosynthetic immune system.  When we get to that we may actually come up with cures for diseases.

My vision is for a component I call the “Fuel Pod”  it is not a fuel cell it is not a battery, it is a pod that acts like the mitochondria in the cells, it may produce ATP to fuel cell needs directly (ATP is like race fuel for cells) and help to process waste products.

A symbiotic combination of animal and plant cells may be the answer.  Plant cells will use the sun and photosynthesis will help to convert the animal waste liquids, solids and gas into fuel liquids solids and gas.  Think about it.  Plants waste is animal fuel and animal waste is plant fuel.  You can see it on the farm, livestock manure is fertilizer for the plants.  Plants consume carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.

If I can combine all of that into a “Fuel Pod” then we will have the answer.  It may take a while but anything can be done with trial an error.

If you enjoyed this blog post please tell your friends about it.  October 1, 2010 these
blogs were moved to a server that can handle the 12,000 daily views.  The work being done
at They Shall Walk is non-profit medical research to improve the quality of life of persons
with disabilities.  The work includes but is not limited to the development of the
LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton that allows paralyzed persons to walk.  It is similar to the
$45 million DARPA / Department of the Army project with exoskeletons that includes the
Berkley BLEEKS, Sarcos Raytheon XO, as well as other classified military government projects.

The main difference is that the LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton was the first of the current
projects and began in 1986.  It is the only one focused on semi-autonomous robotics that
is for paralyzed persons first.

You can support this blog and the work being done at They Shall Walk by donating online

Monty K Reed, Founder They Shall Walk http://www.facebook.com/TheyShallWalk
NEW Address: 6266 13th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108 USA (206) 297-WALK



Biosynthetics: The Study of Living Systems and building working copies.










Blog: Bike Ride on the Shoreline Interurban Trail

Blog: Bike Ride on the Shoreline Interurban Trail
As part of my rehab I am trying to ride my bike every day in the way that most people would walk or run.  When I woke up my right leg was hurting and the left leg was not working so well.  I had an appointment with a personal trainer, Leo Novsky, http://leonovsky.com/default.aspx   I rode my bike to the gym and I got a workout.  It hurt in the best way.  I worked muscle I am going to need when I get back on the ski slopes this season.

After being out for most of the day I was heading back home and realized I only had a short two and a half mile ride this morning on the way to the gym and last night I had done eight miles on the Interurban trail in Lynnwood.  The Shoreline Interurban trail [map] is only three miles one way and the north end is where I stopped last night so why not continue?  I could not come up with any answer.  The closest thing I could muster was that I was in a lot of pain and it was getting dark.  It did not stop me last night, so….

I parked at the Echo Lake Park, parking strip on Ashworth just south of 200th.  Within a couple of minutes I was on the trail on my bike.  Even though the sun had gone down, this part of the trail had so much more lite than the Lynnwood section did.  The other thing that was better about the Shoreline section of the Interurban Trail was that most of it was completely paved.

I started to get moving along the Echo lake section.  The trail started out with a steep slope up and I noticed a lot of very nice houses tucked away along this section of the trail. Nothing as impressive as the ones along the Lake Ballinger section of the trail I had seen last night.  Then the trail levels out a bit.

The new Dale Turner YMCA was visible from just at the south end of the lake.  At 190th cross with caution.  There is a sign on the west side of the trail that says “you are here” and it points out where you are on the Interurban trail map.

Just south of 190th there are two options.  The one to the right shows it is wheel chair accessible.  I think it was put in before the main trail was complete.  A couple of years ago the main trail was still gravel.   I think a wheel chair can make it up the mail part of the trail.  On a bike it was fine.  The street levels off again.

At the Sky Nursery the trail merges with the extended sidewalk.  When you get to 185th proceed with caution.  Tonight the trail was still under construction.

There were orange cones, ribbons and signs marking the “sidewalk closed”.  I noticed there were people walking on the sidewalk anyway.  I stayed on the street and it was a good thing because there were several points where the cement stops and jagged edge rocks, concrete forms and re-bar were exposed.  This was all on the south side of 185th by the drugstore.  I went through the parking lot past “aim copy and mail center” and towards the “Dinners Ready” shop.

At the Chase bank there were sections open and closed so I used the parts of the trail that were open.  By the time I got to the Key bank there were more parts of the trail that were pretty bad.  I stopped for a moment to admire the new City of Shoreline City Hall and the light turned green so I skipped the trail and headed into the Top Foods parking lot.

Just after that the construction ended and the Interurban trail got smooth again.  It was interesting to notice there was a cemetery in Shoreline that I had never seen before.  It is called the Seattle Sephardic Brotherhood

I could see the Shay’s Irish Restaurant green stairway up to the Interurban trail and then the Rich’s car corner extra cars everywhere.

Then the bridge.  The cool color changing icon of Shoreline.  I had to stop and take some pictures.  Check the photo album later to see more of this.  The lighting was not so good but I had to try anyway.

As I crossed the bridge I could see SEARs, Big Lots, and the Denny’s lit signs.  After coming down off of the northern most bridge I had a challenge with the signs.  I looked like the sign was telling me to turn right before the stairs.   My friend Ted had a similar problem a few months before when we were with the Rotary Club of Shoreline cleaning up the streets.  The sign makes it look like wheelchairs should go West just North of the stairs.  Don’t do it.

For wheelchair and bike access you need to go left of the stairs (when southbound) staying East and on the south end sidewalk/ trail.  Then turn right (West) under the bridge to get wheelchair and bike access to the bridge.   I dropped into low gear and headed up the ramp.

On the bridge I could see the trail almost to 145th, my goal for the night.  I started to crank it fast and headed down the ramp off of the bridge.  I got up some speed and noticed someone walking with a dog. It was dark and I do not have a light or a horn so I changed gears a lot so they could hear me coming.  I do not recommend riding at night in the dark without a light but as I had mentioned before I see very well in the dark.

Before I knew it I was at 145th.  I circled around the bench that looks a lot like a train depot and stopped to take a few pics.

Then back on the bike and back North again.

The ride was even better knowing I had made it and was on my way home.  After adding up tonight’s miles and this mornings I would be over eight for the day.  I am a little slow so my eight miles takes a while.

On the way back I had to stop on the bridge for some more pic and a couple of videos.  The videos will be up on the LIFESUITnews channel soon on YouTube.

On the way back I noticed the northern bridge was easier to get up, probably because I was closer to my personal finish line.  The Fuji Steak house was putting out some delicious smells.  I started to get hungry.

I noticed I was peddling faster than before and all of a sudden I was at the Shoreline City Hall again.  A meeting was in session,  I forgot it was tonight.  I knew there was something I was supposed to do.  Before I knew it I was back at Echo Lake Park.  I took a drink of water and loaded up my bike to head home.

I plan to ride up a Snoqualmie pass this weekend.  I need to get a bike trail guide.  I found out the Pacific Crest trail dose not allow bikes, well at least the area I was snow shoeing earlier this year (the end of last ski season).  If you know of a good resource for Washington Bike Trails please make a comment or send me an email.

Several people have expressed an interest in a “They Shall Walk and Roll Across America”
This event would include: Wheelchairs, bikes, scooters, skates, walkers and rollers of all types.  The basic route would be Seattle to Florida.  One of the focuses would include cities where there are fans of They Shall Walk.  We would hold a series of “They Shall Walk and Roll a thons” in those cities.

If you are interested in joining us for the They Shall Walk and Roll Across America send me a comment or an email with your name, your city, and the part you want to do (local or the whole thing).
Monty K Reed, Founder They Shall Walk http://www.facebook.com/TheyShallWalk

Berkeley Bionics reveals eLEGS exoskeleton, aims to help paraplegics walk in 2011 repost

Berkeley Bionics reveals eLEGS exoskeleton, aims to help paraplegics walk in 2011

Wondering where you’ve heard of Berkeley Bionics before? These are the same whiz-kids who produced the HULC exoskeleton in mid-2008, and now they’re back with a far more ambitious effort. Announced just moments ago in San Francisco, the eLEGS exoskeleton is a bionic device engineered to help paraplegics stand up and walk on their own. It’s hailed as a “wearable, artificially intelligent, bionic device,” and it’s expected to help out within the hospital, at home and elsewhere in this wild, wild place we call Earth. Initially, the device will be offered to rehabilitation centers for use under medical supervision, and can be adjusted to fit most people between 5’2″ and 6’4″ (and weighing 220 pounds or less) in a matter of minutes. We’re told that the device provides “unprecedented knee flexion,” and it’s also fairly quiet in operation; under ideal circumstances, speeds of up to 2MPH can be attained, and it employs a gesture-based human-machine interface that relies on legions of sensors to determine a user’s intentions and act accordingly. Clinical trials are going on as we speak about to begin, and there’s a limited release planned for the second half of 2011. We’re still waiting to hear back on a price, so keep it locked for more as we get it live from the event.
Update: We just got to see the eLEGS walk across stage, and you’ll find a gallery full of close-up pics immediately below. We also spoke to Berkeley Bionics CEO Eythor Bender, who detailed the system a bit more — it’s presently made of steel and carbon fiber with lithium-ion battery packs, weighs 45 pounds, and has enough juice to run for six hours of continuous walking. While he wouldn’t give us an exact price, he said they’re shooting for $100,000, and will be “very competitive” with other devices on the market. Following clinical trials, the exoskeleton will be available to select medical centers in July or August, though Bender also said the company’s also working on a streamlined commercial version for all-day use, tentatively slated for 2013.

eLegs from Berkeley
LIFESUIT robotic exoskeleton LS2 prototype number 2 designed in 1986 by Monty K Reed

for more on this article and pictures goto the source.


An Eight Mile Bike Ride on the Interurban Trail in Lynnwood

For some of you who have been reading the blog a while you know I am recovering from a broken back that happened in a parachute accident over two decades ago.  I have constant pain and partial paralysis that comes and goes.  I used to be a distance runner and loved it.  The partial paralysis put a real damper on the running because I would fall a lot.  My solution has been to swim, ski and bike instead.  This is a blog entry about the Test Pilots Journey in rehab with a bike.

This ride was great.  I do not recommend it at night like I did because there are several portions of the route that are unlit.  The night ride is particularly dangerous at the street crossings because of the posts that come up out of the ground.  I have pretty good night vision because of the years in the Army Rangers walking around in the night without any lite.

I mapped it out in Googles maps section but had trouble when I tried to save it.  I hoped to install a link to the map here but since it is not working I will give you the grids and you can put it in.  Be sure to click the beta bike route section in the google maps.

Map info: Start at Black Angus Steakhouse 20102 44th Ave W, Lynnwood, WA 98036-6743

Finish at: Shoreline Wide Shoes 7621 Lake Ballinger Way, Edmonds, WA 98026

One of the best rush parts is the tunnel just south of 220th.  If you are going south like I did you will want to be careful at 236th because the trail ends and turns onto a road with houses cars and mail boxes.

Stay left and follow the road along the lake.  After a straight section you will stay with the main road as it slowly turns ninety degrees right.  It will put you out onto 241st and 76th ave w where you will turn left and begin the climb up to 244th (if you cross the road you will be in Shoreline and the same road is called NW 205th street.)

Then turn around and go back.  If you are there during the afternoon or evening you can stop at Big E ales for a drink and some food.  They always have some good grub.  For the best experience in brew try the sampler of seven different beers.  My favorite is the Scotch Ale combined with any of the burgers and fries they have.  Just what you need after an eight mile ride.

I am getting ready for the 4th annual They Shall Walk and Roll a thon on the Shoreline Interurban trail the last Saturday in October.  October 30 2010 at 9am.  There should be about 1100 people there this year.  A car show is a new attraction and many of the businesses all along the Interurban trail will be set up with ‘trick or treat tables’ giving away goodies.  The costume contest was one of the funnest parts of the event.  Raising money for a non profit medical research charity is the bonus that tops off the whole event.  Give the gift of walking.

Diva espresso will be giving away coffee and pastries, Ivar’s is giving away clam chowder to the first 500 people, Ford is giving away a Ford Escape Hybrid, and there are tons of other prizes for participants: Wheelchairs, bikes, skates, strollers, skate boards, scooters, roller-blades, unicycles, and walkers and rollers of every type are welcome.  $25 suggested donation with no minimum fee.  pre register by sending your name and shirt size to the email address:  monty  at  theyshallwalk.org
more information on the website www.theyshallwalk.org

Man it was cold this morning and the furnace was not working.

Man it was cold this morning and the furnace was not working. Many paraplegics and quadriplegics know how cold we can get.  Even though I have recovered most of my functions because I was an incomplete quad I still have painful cold spells with my left leg.  It very often feels like it has an ice pack sitting on it.  When it is cold, I am really cold.
I called ASAP heating and air conditioning and they were on the way.  It was 35 minutes before they arrived but it seemed like it was faster.  It was so cold people could see their breath in the room.
When the service tech arrived he was in uniform, clean cut and very well mannered.  He quickly got to the furnace and inspected them both.  The office has two roof top models.  He had the furnace filters with him and was able to change those at the same time.
He got the furnace cleaned and back on in no time at all.
Everybody in the office were so happy.
There really were no hidden fees, and no charge for this emergency.  I have heard it so many times when people have said “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”  I did not plan on the furnace not working it just did not. They got it done for us.  Thank you.
Hooray for ASAP heating and air conditioning http://www.asapheating.com/
ASAP Heating and Air Conditioning Comfort is just a phone call away! 425-825-1540 (Eastside)
206-398-1540 (Seattle)  1-877-850-4328 (Toll Free)
No Hidden Costs! Because we know your busy, ASAP Heating has no additional charges for Saturday installation or emergency service appointments.
Monty K Reed, Founder They Shall Walk http://www.TheyShallWalk.org
NEW Address: 6266 13th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108 USA (206) 297-WALK

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