By Jay Ruderman
As Plato told us long ago, necessity is the mother of invention.
One recent example of this is a very special assistive device developed by a volunteer at Milbat in Israel. It’s a clever invention with a unique purpose: it allows 20-year-old Oved to play the guitar, something he never thought he would do again.
Everyone knows you need two hands to play a guitar: one for the frets and the other to strum. However, even after losing his arm in an automobile accident, the young man now is able to strum using foot pedals in place of the missing arm.
During his rehabilitation, Oved turned to Milbat with the hope that they could help him play the guitar again. But the occupational therapists he met with could not find a solution. That’s when the challenge was passed on to Uri Pinhasi, a Milbat volunteer who is an industrial designer for the Israeli Aircraft Industry.
Uri, who was as determined as Oved was, developed a series of models over the next ten months. After countless false starts, he developed one that replaces the fine motor movements of strumming with the gross motor movements of the leg muscles, connected to the guitar with bicycle gear cables.
Milbat is an Israeli nonprofit, working with people with disabilities of all ages. For the past 31 years, Milbat has been improving their quality of life, raising their level of independence, and integrating them into the workforce and the community through an adapted technological environment.
In cases where no commercial product is available that could meet the expressed need, the Milbat volunteer team– 300 experts in the areas of technology and design– develops a new device. And Oved and others like him reap the benefits.
Recently Oved marked the one-year anniversary of his accident. The most exciting moment of the event was when he played for family and friends a guitar solo of the Israeli song that begins “To start everything from the beginning…”
I hope you enjoy this video of Oved playing the guitar.
— Jay Ruderman