|Back to News Release Index|
For Release: March 26, 1997
NEWS RELEASE: 97-029
A team of engineers from the Propulsion Laboratory has been named the Marshall Center's Inventors of the Year for 1996 for their work in developing a device to aid those recovering from strokes and knee injuries.
Neill Myers, Michael Shadoan, John Forbes, Kevin Baker and Darron Rice are credited with inventing the Selectively Lockable Knee Brace, which is designed to provide movement of the knee during rehabilitation and to promote a quicker, less painful recuperation.
A prosthetic device might seem a far cry from the "bread and butter" line of work for engineers in a Marshall laboratory. The connection though, is that in this case mechanisms and materials already developed by the team during their work on propulsion systems were applicable to the knee brace.
Even with that advantage, there still was an intricate path to be negotiated from initial idea to achieving the final objective of a tangible working product. To help streamline the process, NASA has recently implemented a new policy on filing patent applications as well as new provisions for sharing license income with inventors.
The Propulsion Laboratory team worked on the brace over the past three years. The investment of time and effort was rewarded recently with the issuance of a patent, based on the device's potential for commercial application. The brace is currently undergoing testing at Horton's Orthotic Lab in Little Rock, Ark.
This was the 13th patent for Myers, making him the "most patented" inventor currently at Marshall. His inventions span 25 years and cover a wide variety of technologies.
Summing up what involvement in the knee brace project has meant for the team, Myers said it was "extremely nice" to be able to do something that may have a direct benefit on people's lives.
The Inventors of the Year Award will be presented to the team at the Annual Awards Ceremony in June.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos or video to accompany this release are available by calling Media Services at the number listed above.