In our weekly feature #Tech Thursdays, we bring you the story of an innovation called Handicare that is helping people with lower limb disability move around comfortably.
A final year student of mechanical engineering, Sumanth Mudaliar happened to notice the difficulties faced by people with lower limb disability while moving around. That was the trigger for Handicare, a device that helps disabled people move around in a more hygienic and comfortable manner.
Handicare, which won second prize at the Aarohan Social Innovation Awards given out by Infosys Foundation has been developed by Mudaliar and fellow engineering student Vishrut Bhatt as part of their start up, Onceptual Technologies
We noticed that the people with a disability in their legs are moving on the road on a board by pushing their hands on the floor. This causes a great difficulty as using the hands to push the board causes blisters and cracks on their palms. There are hygienic issues as well as they use their hands to move the board. They use the hands in washrooms and this gives rise to many diseases. – Sumath Mudaliar, Co-founder, Onceptual Technologies
Mudaliar and Bhatt, who are students of LD Engineering College in Ahmedabad decided to so some research before developing Handicare and approached Apang Manav Mandal, an institute that reaches out to people with disabilities. The idea was to understand their daily challenges better.
How it works
“At the NGO we met Darshita Shah, a special officer who shared the many difficulties caused while using the board. “Ms Shah explained that people with a disability in their legs have weak hands as well and suffer a lot of pain in their shoulders as well as the spine when they push the board with their hands”, says Mudaliar.
Challenges that Handicare tries to address in many ways. There are handle bars that are wiggled in the right and left such that the front wheels, which are also bigger, are in contact with the ground and push the ground backwards. This leads to friction between the bigger wheels and the ground. Due to this friction the wheel moves forwards as well as the device. Greater the friction, the more easily the device moves, To reach higher speeds, the handlebars need to be moved more frequently.
“We are targeting people with lower limb disability and it is mainly for use indoors and on campus”, says Mudaliar as there are many devices available for outdoor use. Handicare is made such that it enables access to narrow places like toilets.
Shah says the device is easy and convenient to use. “We have distributed Handicare devices to about 30 users, most of them free of cost. They are hygienic and easy to use anywhere”.
Chhabil Ghanshyam Das, who is among the users, says the device has made him feel more independent. “I am disabled from birth and paralyzed from the waist down. With Handicare I don’t have to put my hands down on the floor. It is comfortable to use as well”.
Handicare has been available in the market for nearly two years now and has found over 200 users so far. “The basic challenge was to make people aware that they could use it more easily compared to the board they were using before and to create an emotional touch with Handicare”, says Mudaliar.
Mudaliar and Bhatt are now planning to pitch Handicare to the central government for the Accessible India Campaign.