Get affordable tech solution for differently-abled at Mobility India
Given the socio-economic conditions of people in India, getting an affordable user-friendly prosthetic and orthotic components for the differently-abled would be something beyond one’s pocket. Focusing on the need of people and the community, for over two decades Mobility India has been on the process of developing appropriate tech solutions for differently-abled.
Mobility India, with its main centre based in JP Nagar, Bangalore is equipped with trained and experienced staff along with the best of infrastructure to deal with any kind of technology. What keeps Mobility India different from the rest of the organizations is that their main focus is on people who cannot afford to access rehabilitation support because of poverty, ignorance, lack of awareness education and huge discrepancy between the service provider n the service receiver.
In India the complete disability population are in the rural parts or the peri-urban parts. More than 70% of the facilities are in the districts and the cities and town, hence whatever facilities and entitlements are generated by the government does not reach to the people. Moreover disabled people sitting in the villages do not even know about the facilities they are entitled for and which are being guaranteed by the government. Government schemes and programmes meant for uplifting the differently-abled and the way State has designed the policies are very good, but the delivery mechanism is the major issue. Even in village panchayat they have 3% of funds dedicated to the development of person with disabilities, education, housing income generation- which could be creating access, could be assistive devices and technology but often the panchayat do not know how to utilize it.
Speaking to Techspirit, Mr Soikat Ghosh Moulic, Prosthetist and Orthotist, Asst. Director- Technical, Mobility India said: “We at Mobility India work in addressing these issues with primary focus on how a child with disability could go to school, or adult with disability could access income generation activity training. We work more as a changing agent or an awareness agent to make them aware. We cannot do everything independently, we work in network with grassroot organizations based in communites as they are aware of the needs and requirements of people.Similarly all our creations are driven by the need of the community people and child sitting in villages and we are not driven by the need of people sitting in cities.
Mobility India’s development is focussed on few A’s- available, accessible, appropriate, adaptable and affordable. By affordability we mean 70% of our beneficiary are poor who cannot afford or who are not aware, we have to raise funds for all our activities. If there is an annual target of providing 3,000 assistive devices to the people so when we raise fund even the funder should find it affordable to support it. There are prosthetics which costs about Rs 15-20 lakhs and at Mobility India we have prosthetics which costs just about Rs 2, 500 so for a donor to support one limb of Rs 15-20 lakh and supporting 100 limbs of Rs 2,500 each is much better so that is the technology we have at Mobility India, he added.
Whatever technology we have developed and innovated, it talks about the simplicity, it should easily fit in to the Indian socio-economic and geographical conditions. A simple formerly trained technician should be able to fabricate and fit it n follow it up, it should require less maintenance and care as majority of people using the prosthetics are in rural conditions where they have to go to their fields to work in mud, slush, water, spend 7-8 hours a day in that environment, so the technology should assist in meeting his daily requirement. Mr Soikat said: “So addressing these issues we have developed lot of appropriate technology in prosthetics. We have developed our own four types of Jaipur foot addressing the needs for various levels of amputations which is the first of its kind in Asia. Jaipur foot of various sizes from child to adult starting from 17 cms to 28 cms which can address almost 90% of the need of a prosthetic feet of all age group.”
Mobility India has also developed their own low cost appropriate transtibial component for amputations below the knee as a fully quality assured tested product. In Orthotics, the Centre has come up with supportive external devices- for persons and children affected with polio, stroke etc, MI has also developed off the shelf orthotic components of ten different sizes (left and right). This idea again came up following the need of community and feedback. The conventional way of making orthotic components takes about 3-4 visits to the centre -for casting, fitting and trial and then again for final finishing so people working in the field cannot afford to forgo their daily wage. Hence, through a lot of brainstorming Mobility India came out with product which is provided at once. A formerly trained technician can chose this component to fit in child or person, assemble it fit it with minimum tools and equipments within 4-6 hours time so the person can immediately get back to his work.
In the course of facilitating the set-up of orthopaedic workshop the Centre realized the need to have a material bank. “We never got a shop where we can access raw materials for our needs, we were still dependent on imported tools, equipments machines which were very expensive and then the added import duties and taxes. We found that we can do it ourselves. Some of these machineries which we now have at our workshop was purchased at around Rs 6-10 lakhs but having the same function what we have come up with is just Rs 30,000-35, 000. This is the biggest technological innovation which is being used utilized by the entire India and neighboring region. We are developing components of very good standards which can withstand the stress and strain in Indian rural conditions, requires less maintenance, just a bit of cleaning that’s all. Some of these products are designed in co-ordination with National Institute of Design, Ahemadabad. MI is supporting in the development of a four bar linkaged knee joint for above knee amputation for Indian needs in association with Society for Biomedical Technology, Defence Department, IIT Chennai.” said Mr Soikat.
We have also made prosthetics out of water pipes which are dust proof water proof and maintenance proof, light in weight, only thing you need to do is scientifically it should be done and we do this here. We have our training school here where we train students from entire South East Asia, parts of Europe, Middle East Gaza Lebanon so we are equipping them with this kind of technology and options so when they study they get aware of all these, he further stressed. There has been a huge demand for prosthetic and orthotic components made at Mobility India from other countries especially Africa, Nepal, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam and South East Asia. About 30% of the products are exported.
The Centre has developed devices in the form of chairs which will help disabled children to sit, stand, and also special spoons, plates, scrubs for children who do not have proper grasp of their hands. MI is working on a special positional device along with IIT Mumbai, which is adjustable and dismantable in various ways. Heading forward, Mobility India is looking at developing components for making upper extremity prosthetics. “We are stable for giving solutions to lower extremity but still there are not many options to meet the need for upper extremity prosthetics. There is only one institution- Alimco which produces the components, but sometimes meeting the need and demand gets an issue. We are doing review on the need. We are also exploring for access to material locally like carbon fibres titanium for which we are trying to work with defence institution as they have access to all these”, he further stated.