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Saturday, 6 February 2016
Low-cost devices to help people with special needs
Engineers and students come up with prototypes at Enable Makeathon.
Wheelchairs that give users greater control, prosthetic feet that can help a wearer navigate rough terrains, hands-free devices that can help those who have lost their limbs don clothes without support from another person. These are just a few of the prototypes that engineers and students from across the country and different parts of the world developed as part of the 60-day Enable Makeathon.
The goal of the programme, conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, was to get students and people working in the field of disability to develop low-cost devices that would help people with special needs. While the competition received several entries, 84 teams were shortlisted and 20 best entries were showcased here on Saturday.
Three devices were judged to be the most innovative and useful, and the teams that came up with the prototypes were awarded cash prize. Tarun Sarnal, innovation adviser at the ICRC, said they plan to further develop these products and turn the prototypes into marketable products.
Standing and sitting chair
By | Mobility India
A team from Mobility India developed a chair for children with cerebral palsy or mobility difficulties to sit and stand with ease. The device, which allows users a certain level of independence, bagged the first place and won $ 25,000. Soikat Ghosh Moulic, prosthetist and orthotist at Mobility India, who was part of the five-member team that designed the device, said it would also help children who were unable to sit upright because of spinal cord injuries. “We had initially made two devices, one to help children to sit and another to help them stand. Based on the feedback and after interacting with 200 children, we decided on a twin device that will cost anywhere between Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 4,000,” he said.
Add-on for a wheelchair
By | Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Most people in India depend on manual wheelchairs that can be restrictive and difficult to use when compared with their hi-tech counterparts. To address this imbalance, mechanical engineers from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, both current students and alumni, developed an additional part that can be fitted onto a manual wheelchair. With this, a person can use the wheelchair to travel outdoors even on uneven terrain. They can even reverse the wheelchair with ease. Vivek Sarda, who graduated from IIT Madras in 2014, said the objective of their mobility device was to ensure that those on the wheelchair could to move independently. They have developed two versions of the part — one is a motorised and the other manual. The prototypes won the second prize and the team was awarded $15,000.
A step in time
By | RightFit Prosthetics Initiative
Rochelle A. Dum and her classmate Gary Wall, both master’s students in prosthetics and orthotics from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, U.S., have designed a sleek prosthetic foot that can be used on uneven terrain. Called Fuji Foot, it has multi-axial capabilities and can withstand high levels of activities. The two students are part of the RightFit Prosthetics Initiative. Gary Wall said he made trips to several prosthetic factories and also made patients with prosthetic feet try this device. The device won the third prize and the team was awarded $10,000.