A hand for enabling the disabled
The proportion of aged population in India is estimated to grow from 71 million in 2001 to 173 million by 2026 (Ref: Census 2001). Studies indicate that the rate of physical disability in elderly population will continue to increase steeply in the next 10 to 20 years. With gradual deterioration of their abilities, the aged face extreme difficulties to meet their daily needs. It has been noted that with loss of autonomy and freedom of movement, life becomes miserable for the aged and they struggle to meet basic needs like using toilet, bathing, climbing staircase, taking medicines, communication, transfer etc. The situation is even worse for palliative care patients (bed ridden patients). It has been noted that the majority of the technological needs of palliative care patients are yet to be identified and catered. Lack of assistive and affordable technology has made the life of palliative care patients extremely miserable and their dependency on others for their day to day activities make the situation worse.
We have done a preliminary study of the needs of palliative/elderly care and more than twenty pressing needs were identified and the magnitude of the problem is quite alarming. The available technologies in India are mostly imported and many of them are not affordable to lower – middle class people. In some cases these imported technologies are not adapted or customized to Indian condition. Moreover availability of these technologies for low –middle income group is limited. Since market is limited, major industries are not much interested in developing such technologies.
In association with Alpha Pain and Palliative Care Centre (a leading pain and palliative care centre in Kerala) we have done a study of the requirements of affordable technologies for the care of patients. Alpha has 17 centers spread around 4 districts of Kerala. There are more than 50 patients in each clinic, majority are from low income groups. The patients include hemiplegic, paraplegic, quadriplegic, patients suffering from parkinsonism, accident victims with head injury, children with cerebral palsy, dementia etc. Doctors and physiotherapists shared the difficulties faced by the patients due to the lack of affordable devices and technologies and we realized it as a need which requires urgent intervention.
With the objective of developing and delivering the affordable devices in palliative/elderly care, we documented, prioritized and selected 20 needs for developing affordable products. We met experts, innovators, technicians and student community regarding the possiblities of developing these products. With the support of Kerala Startup Mission we organized a 3 day Makeathon - 'Creative i' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIUHQLqFYQo&t=32s) in an SME workshop with the involvement of all these partners. We together brainstormed various innovative ideas for catering three specific needs viz.
1) Getting up from bed for the bedridden patients
2) Sitting and getting up from toilets for the elderly patients
3) Drinking water aid for the bed ridden patients
We then developed first level working prototypes for the ideas developed. As these prototypes needed further refinement, we organized the second phase makeathon - "Creative i REFINE' (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq4MwVYCaI0&t=4s) for 3 days. Students, experts, technicians and innovators worked together and further refined/improved the prototypes to the second level.
Of these 3 technologies developed, 'the drinking water dispenser for bed ridden patients' went through one more iteration and given to a few patients for their feedback. The support we are seeking is for the dissemination of 100 pieces of drinking water dispenser to the patients.