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IIT-Madras develops an affordable standing wheelchair

A person can shift from sitting to standing or vice versa independently’
A two-wheeler accident seven years ago made 36-year-old D. Ashok Kumar dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. “One of my biggest regrets was my inability to lift my two-year-old daughter when standing,” he said.

Thanks to a ‘standing wheelchair’ called ‘Arise’, developed at the TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Ashok Kumar’s dream was fulfilled four months ago. “It may sound silly to others. But the happiness I had as a father that day was inexplicable,” he said.

Arise was formally launched by Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, at IIT-Madras Research Park on Tuesday.

The wheelchair, indigenously-designed at IIT-M in collaboration with Phoenix Medical Systems, with the support of the UK-based Wellcome Trust, is priced at about Rs. 15,000. Using Arise, a person with a disability can shift from a standing position to a sitting position and vice versa, independently or with assistance.

Sujatha Srinivasan, Head, R2D2, IIT Madras, said that mobility in the standing position was not pursued for safety reasons.

Mr. Ashok Kumar, said that being in a seated position for a long time could lead to pressure sores, conjectures and other secondary health problems. “With this wheelchair, I will not have these health problems,” he said.

V. Sashi Kumar, Managing Director, Phoenix Medical Systems, said that this was the first indigenously developed standing wheelchair in the country. “Standing wheelchairs are now imported at a price of around Rs. 1.5 lakh,” he said.

Ms. Srinivasan said that Arise came with a lot of customisable options.