IIT Chennai

IIT-Madras develops affordable standing wheelchair

Chennai | India

Let's consider for a moment how a differently-abled person sitting on a wheelchair would feel about his position. Well, that's the problem - most of us who are fully mobile will find it very difficult to put ourselves in their shoes.

But I recall the time when I was bed-ridden after a painful surgery in my small intestine to remove a rare outgrowth with a name one would have thought belonged to a Roman solider in Asterix comics - Meckel's Diverticulum. Anyway, post the surgery, two tubes hanging from either side of my tummy, movement was very painful, and it was on a wheelchair I transported myself within my room for almost a week. Most of that week, I really wanted to stand up straight when someone else in front of me was standing - this had nothing to do with anything physical, the need was purely psychological.

Being on a wheelchair for a week is not the same as being on a wheelchair for years - but if anything, I guess the psychological need I had to be "standing up to others" would be even higher for those who are wheelchair bound. This need could be even more pronounced for those who had earlier been fully mobile but got tied to a wheelchair owing to an accident or old age.

Which is why I think the idea of a standing wheelchair by IIT Madras is an awesome idea.

The wheel chair, indigenously-designed at IIT-M in collaboration with Phoenix Medical Systems, helps a person with a disability shift from a sitting to a standing position and vice versa, independently (this can also be done with assistance where needed).

The user through the power of her/his arms can transform the wheelchair from a sitting to a standing position (and vice-versa). And the IIT team had made this task even easier through an one-time fitting, This custom fitting, done once right at the beginning of the wheelchair use, will ensure that the effort required for a user to move to a standing position is really minimal.

Ingenious, would't you say?

What I'm really impressed about this idea is the tapping of this need which is perhaps not very apparent (quite latent) but a powerful psychological need all the same. Even though it would have taken significant research and trials to develop a product such as this (developed in a division called R2D2, this time it is Star Wars), I'd rate identifying this need to be of the same importance as designing the product.

The Standing Wheelchair is called, aptly enough, Arise. It is priced at a moderate Rs 15,000.

More details about Arise from this IITM page - https://home.iitm.ac.in/r2d2/prototypes.html

Also, here is the R2D2 page at IIT Madras for those who wish to contact them for more details: https://home.iitm.ac.in/r2d2/


The Hindu | Last Updated : 05-Nov-19

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