IIT Madras Launches Unique Wheelchair at Affordable Price

Asia-Pacific, Assistive Technology, News, November 6 2019

INDIA: A new affordable ‘standing wheelchair’ that enables persons with disabilities to shift between standing and sitting positions independently, has been indigenously designed by the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in collaboration with Phoenix Medical Systems. It was launched here on Tuesday.

Few people on a stage at a launch event

Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot with differently abled persons on the ‘Standing Wheelchair’. (Photo | R Sathish Babu, EPS)

Wheelchair users usually require assistance to stand, after being seated in their wheelchairs.

While standing wheelchairs are already available in the country, they are mostly imported and are highly expensive. Called ‘Arise,’ this standing wheelchair can be bought at Rs 15,000, said V Sashi Kumar, the managing director of Phoenix Medical Systems told Express, speaking at the sidelines of the launch.

Further, Arise comes in four sizes: small, medium, large and extra-large, and can be customised to suit users’ body type by making simple adjustments, he said.

The wheelchair was launched in the presence of Union Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, , students, staff and faculty of IIT Madras besides other stakeholders in the project. “In the last five years, I have seen a lot of modern technologies in India and abroad but Have not seen such a good standing wheelchair anywhere in the world. I am very happy and impressed and I congratulate IIT Madras and its partners for coming up with such a nice wheelchair, which is multipurpose and beneficial for health also, besides being cost-effective,” said Gehlot.

It was designed and developed by the TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2)  at IIT Madras, headed by Prof. Sujatha Srinivasan in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

It is not widely known that users of conventional wheelchairs face a host of difficulties. Being in a seated position long periods can lead to secondary health problems such as poor blood circulation and pressure sores. However, users require considerable effort, aids and assistance to attain a standing position from their wheelchairs. Thus, they do not adopt the standing position as frequently as they need to or wish to. Users can, by themselves, use standing wheelchairs to arise from the seated position to a standing position and vice versa.

Users will not have mobility in the standing position. “The feature was not added as we kept safety as a priority. If a user tried to stand and move on a slope, it may lead to instability,” said Sujatha Srinivasan, speaking to Express at the sidelines of the launch. She added that Arise can be most efficiently used by people who have spinal cord injuries.

Originally Published on New Indian Express

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