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The inventor 

The BerkelBike is the brainchild of Rik Berkelmans. Berkelmans graduated of Chemical Toxicology at the Catholic University Nijmegen and Exercise physiology at the Free University Amsterdam. Because of his background, he is very much conscious of the importance of exercise for the functioning of the body. Knowing this, he understood that people with a spinal cord injury have a big indirect health risk. The tissue, which it not or hardly used, will decline in quality and become vulnerable. This results among others in decubitus ulcers at seat, feet and ankles. The second risk is the general health. While the government proclaims from the housetops that we should move more, Berkelmans knows that this not very useful for people, who cannot use the biggest muscles of their body. By intensive use of the arms, these relatively small muscles go sour even before a good condition exercise takes place. The performance-determining factor is the muscles in the arms and not the general condition. Accordingly, it is not amazing that even wheelchair athletes, who do endurance sports, have upper-body of a bodybuilder.



The Inventor



The idea 

To overcome this problem, the leg muscles should participate actively, but very important was that it also should be attractive to use the machine. This way the therapy-dedication stays high. In this way the BerkelBike was born. Control of the legs by Functional Electrical Stimulation in combination with hand-cycling and all of this able to connect and disconnect to wheelchair.



The financing 

In 2000 Berkelmans decided to work out the plan. It could not be done within his work at the physics laboratory of the Radboud University in Nijmegen. So, on the Internet was searched for financing possibilities. That year, using outstanding technical drawings of Bauke Muntz, the invention was rewarded with the prestigious Millennium-prize (NLG 100,000) and successively got support of the national rehabilitation funds NRF and Economic Affairs. In 2002 additional finance was collected by winning the encouragement award of the Herman Wijffels-innovationprize. Furthermore big amounts are donated by building firm Royal Wessels Stevin, who made these moneys available through the NRF. As the prototype worked sufficiently, a clinical trial was executed in co-operation with rehabilitation center Sint Maartenskliniek and university medical center St. Radboud. This research was to a large extent paid for with money of a regional European encouragement fund.




The building activities 

The first 5 prototypes of the BerkelBike were build by Flevobike. This engineers agency is specialized in "man driven vehicles". Subsequently Nijland Revalidatie Techniek build the last 3 prototypes, by which the produce-ability had an important role. The first prototype of the electronics was build by Peter Claus, a colleague of Rik Berkelmans at the University, with a huge contribution of Ben ban den Dolder of Syntens. The second prototype, made by JWA Systems, functioned the same as the first, but was half of the size and had more adjustment possibilities. Between September 2004 till September 2007,  all the developments in the field of software and electronics took place through a Joint venture between Berkelbike BV and Brainquiry R&D.



BerkelBike BV 

After winning the Millennium-prize, Rik Berkelmans started to work part-time (20 hours) at the University. In October 2002 he took the risk and resigned to rent a business premises at the University Company Center in Nijmegen. On March 6th 2003 BerkelBike BV (Inc.) was established. On April 15th 2008 BerkelBike BV moved from Nijmegen to 's-Hertogenbosch. On November 14th 2011 they moved again to a bigger location, now to Sint-Michielsgestel, the Netherlands.



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