A STONEYFORD man who has been wheelchair bound since a quad racing accident five years ago has visited a university research centre to see work being done on technology which could allow people to operate things such as wheelchairs by thought.
Trevor Lecky, the MD of Stoneyford Concrete, was 2003 British Quad Super Moto racing Champion and raced all across Europe, finishing in the top three in the British and Irish Quad racing Championships from '03 —'05 but has been wheelchair bound since a serious accident during a race in 2006 where he lost the ability to walk.
Accompanied by Ulster Unionist representative Basil McCrea, Mr. Lecky visited the Intelligent Systems Research Centre at the University of Ulster Magee campus recently.
"The Intelligent Systems Research Centre is working on using technology to map the mind to enable people to operate things such as wheelchairs using their thoughts alone," said Mr. Lecky.
"This sort of research can be used to help people who have also suffered from strokes, and have diminished mobility of specific parts of the body.
"On average 55 people are paralysed each year here in Northern Ireland and 80 per cent of those people are under the age of 40."
Mr McCrea said he was impressed with the work being done. "The technological advances being made here are very exciting, and the researchers are extremely ambitious in their plans to push this type of technology forward," he said.
"As an internationally recognised centre for research and development the Intelligent Systems Research Centre has the potential to benefit Northern Ireland, and the rest of the world.
"They are making excellent advances in the medical field, specifically into brain research. The ISRC has been researching neurological activity which could lead into treatment for people with all sorts of illnesses, for example people who have suffered strokes, Alzheimer's disease and depression."
Mr McCrea added: "Trevor is deeply invested in helping those who have been paraIysed, supporting charities such as the MITRE Trust rehab at Musgrave hospital which treated him, and investigating avant-garde research which has led him to the decision to order a bionic suit to help him walk again."
"This part of the university is a great opportunity to attract business to Northern Ireland, and bring us high quality jobs. It also gives us the chance to become a vital hub in this area of research on the international stage."