IIT-Madras launches affordable standing wheelchair

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on November 05, 2019

(From right) Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Institute Professor, IIT-Madras; Sujatha Srinivasan, Founder and Head of TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development; and Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot, watch a demo of the standing wheelchair

Customisable mechanical device ‘Arise’ developed indigenously with Phoenix Medical Systems

Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, in collaboration with Phoenix Medical Systems, launched the country’s first indigenously-designed standing wheelchair on Tuesday. The assistive device helps the wheelchair-bound move from a sitting to standing position, and vice-versa, independently. The wheelchair was launched at IIT Madras Research Park in the presence of Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, researchers, industry and testing partners, students and faculty.

Called ‘Arise,’ the standing wheelchair was designed and developed by the TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2), headed by Sujatha Srinivasan, a profiessor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at IIT-Madras.

The commercialisation of the standing wheelchair technology was made possible through support from Wellcome Trust, UK, via an ‘Affordable Healthcare in India’ Award, which brought together the research and manufacturing partners. Thanks to a novel, mass-manufacturable mechanical design (one Indian patent granted, other Indian, US and China patents pending), and Phoenix’s manufacturing capabilities, Arise will be made available at an affordable price of around ₹15,000.

Praising all stakeholders responsible for developing the wheelchair, Minister Gehlot said: “I have seen several devices made with modern technology in India and abroad in the last few years, but have not seen such a good standing wheelchair anywhere in the world. I congratulate IIT-Madras and its partners for coming up with this multi-purpose device that greatly boosts the user’s confidence, and physical and mental well-being, apart from being cost-effective.”

He added: “I am truly impressed with the work done by R2D2 and look forward to cooperating with the centre in the future. I assure IIT-Madras and its partners that we will try to provide standing wheelchairs to the needy through the Ministry, MLA Constituency Development and CSR funds.”

Expressing her appreciation for the work of testing partners, including CMC Vellore, The Spinal Foundation, SPASTN and Vidyasagar, Sujatha Srinivasan said users of conventional wheelchairs, being seated for long hours, face secondary health problems such as poor blood circulation and pressure sores. These issues may be minimised by using standing wheelchairs. This can be greatly beneficial to the health, self-esteem and well-being of a wheelchair user,” she said.

“Arise is a gamechanger,” said Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO, in a video message, adding that she is “delighted at the liberation this device will offer the differently-abled.”

On R2D2’s work, Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT-Madras, said: “The TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development, created with a generous endowment from our distinguished alumnus TT Jagannathan, has become the research and innovation hub for several affordable assistive technologies, among which Arise is a sterling example. The Centre and Phoenix Medical Systems are to be congratulated for their persistent efforts to make the device user-friendly and affordable.”

Describing the safety features in Arise, Sashi Kumar, Managing Director, Phoenix Medical Systems, a pioneer in the medical devices sector in India, said: “One safety feature of Arise is the interlocking mechanism, which ensures that the wheelchair remains in a locked state if the knee block is not in position. The dimensions of Arise are adjustable and adequate safety features are incorporated.”

Published on November 05, 2019

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