Researchers at local innovators event designing, creating new devices to assist veterans

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- An innovators event Friday in Lakewood was designed to help improve the lives of badly injured veterans.

The program's inventions help severely injured U.S. and international veterans gain more independence in their daily lives.

The veterans receiving help said the work of the inventors gives them hope for a better everyday life.

One of the people who attended was a military and anti-terrorism veteran who suffered a severe injury that makes it almost impossible for him to use his hands.  Israeli Uzi Patzinich suffered severe damage to nerves in his neck and arms while on a mission in Israel.  It resulted in stiff and clenched hands that don't allow him to do everyday activities like opening a bottle of pop.

Friday, volunteers from the group called Challenge America put on the event to help veterans like Patzinich.

Engineers, software specialists and other brilliant minds came together at St. Edward High School's brand new Innovation Center to design and create devices to vastly improve the lives of veterans.

A program like this in Israel was so successful in helping U.S. veterans, Challenge America decided to create a similar invention program to help American veterans and to reciprocate helping Israeli military veterans as well.

In Patzinich's case, a team of innovators created arm and hand braces that stretch his hands by opening and closing them while he sleeps.  It's expected the device will make his hands flexible during the day, so that he can use them the way he wants.

"We're looking to make a device that will run on a timer and will run the stretching exercise for about 30 minutes while he sleeps. And, so this way, when he wakes up he has a much higher mobility in his arms to function during the day," said Ilya Gotfryd with Challenge America.

Innovators said their work is extremely rewarding.

"There are so many veterans who have unmet needs. There really isn't a lot of economic incentive often times for companies to really take this on, so we're just trying to make a really significant improvement in their daily lives and that's the goal,"
said Dallas Blainey Executive Director of Challenge America.

The inventors aren't just helping Patzinich.  They're also creating other devices to help veterans dealing with amputation or paralysis.

The veterans said they are grateful they're getting help and hope.

"They're incredible people. They just want to give to you. and not take anything from you. They only want to give you hope, support you, send you with good condition, for me we are family," Patzinich said.

During the three day innovation program in Lakewood different devices will be made for seven veterans.  Patzinich will start using his arm and hand device this weekend.

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