The ALYN Innovation Space – Redefining What a Hospital Could Be
Written by Yona Schnitzer/TPS on May 27, 2018
Tucked away on a hillside near Jerusalem’s green and picturesque Ein Karem neighborhood is ALYN Hospital, a rehabilitation facility for children with disabilities.
Israel’s only pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation hospital, ALYN treats a wide range of congenital and acquired conditions, including cerebral palsy, neuromuscular diseases, as well as spinal cord and brain injuries.
ALYN’s General Director of Medicine, Dr. Maurit Beeri says the center’s goal is to help the children grow up as healthy individuals. “Despite what you may think, the advancements of modern medicine have not lead to there being less disabled kids, but actually more of them, because today, we have the ability to treat conditions that in the past, were untreatable, but even if they have specific disabilities, that doesn’t mean that they can’t live full lives and have the full experiences of being members of society.” Beeri told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) on a recent tour of the facility.
“ALYN helps the children get back to what they should have been before they were injured, or despite the illness they are suffering from,” she adds.
Last year, the center opened the ALYN Innovation Space, which develops technologies to do just that.
The Innovation Space has two tracks. The first is PELE, ‘wonder’ in Hebrew and also an acronym for Solutions for Children of ALYN), where a team of volunteers, each with expertise in their own field, comes up with tailor made solutions to problems that have no readily available ones. For example specialty grip pens and pencils for children whose disability does not allow them to grip writing utensils in the regular fashion, or a robotic wagon that can be tethered to a wheelchair and carry personal items.
“PELE’s doors are open to any child in Israel, that has a physical disability and a challenge that cannot be addressed by off-the shelf solutions,” says ALYNnovation Director Danna Hochstein-Mann, “The child, family member or therapist can come to the Peleh team, present the challenge, and the team will try to invent a solution.”
The second track at the Innovation Space is ALYNnovation, a division that identifies innovations which can be commercialized and sold, helping disabled kids around the world while also generating revenue for the hospital.
“Many hospitals think of ways to generate revenue. Some open gift shops, some open malls. Rather than doing that, ALYN identified an asset and realized that they could build on that in order to create a new profit center while continuing to carry out their mission of helping disabled children in Israel and around the world,” said Hochstein-Mann.
One such example is the Wheelchairs of Hope project, a specially designed wheelchair which retails for under $100, designed specifically for developing countries, with 3,000 units already having been distributed worldwide.
Another example is ChairCall – a 3D printed box that is installed on the control unit of electric wheelchairs, allowing the user to remotely control his wheelchair via bluetooth from an app on his phone.
“The idea for ChairCall was thought up by disabled teenager who did not want his wheelchair present at all times, allowing his disability to define him,” says Hochstein-Mann, “This way, he is able to hang out at a friend’s house and sit on the couch with all of his friends, and only when he needs to move, he can summon his wheelchair back to him, after remotely driving it to the other room,” she added.
ALYNnovation also enjoys many partnerships with various companies and groups, including MEDX, an investment group aimed at medical innovations, and PlayWork, a company that works to digitise physical therapy equipment, unlocking potential to gamify therapy sessions, making them more enjoyable for children, while also giving the staff the ability to collect data from sessions and monitor improvement.
Hochstein-Mann asserts that within just a few years, ALYNnovation will begin to turn a profit and become completely self sustainable, “ALYN is doing something unique. It’s not trying to maximize returns for investors, but is rather trying to help as many people as possible,” she says, “We’re teaching ourselves to fish, and we’re enabling a non-profit to become completely self sustainable. That is truly unique.”
Please enjoy our video report:
Correction: In the video, it is stated the the Wheelechairs of Hope project was developed in partnership with Pablo Kaplan and Chava Rothberg, it is actually Pablo Kaplan and Chava Rothstein.