When the National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped (NIOH), Calcutta, was established in 1978 as an autonomous body by the central government, the stated aim was to develop manpower and model services, conduct research and standardise aids for persons with orthopaedic disabilities. And looking at the successes in the last 30 years of its existence, NIOH can proudly claim that it has more than lived up to those expectations.
Today, NIOH is considered to be one of the nation’s apex institutes when it comes to education and research in the field of orthopaedics. Initially, the institute was under the Union ministry of social welfare, but now it is under the ministry of social justice & empowerment. The institute is registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
“In the last 30 years, we have always strived to promote rehabilitation management and develop manpower for rehabilitative services for persons with various locomotor disabilities,” says Ratnesh Kumar, director, NIOH.
Bouquet of courses
Spread over a three-acre campus, NIOH offers three long-term bachelors courses lasting four and a half years and many postgraduate and short-term courses. The institute offers bachelors courses in physiotherapy (BPT), occupational therapy (BOT) and prosthetics & orthotics (BPO).
Till a few years back, the BPT and BOT courses were affiliated to Jadavpur University, Calcutta, but that has changed and all the courses offered by the institute are now affiliated to the University of Calcutta.
Any student who has passed Class XII or its equivalent in the science stream with 50 per cent marks is eligible for the entrance exam. Some seats are also reserved for handicapped students. Almost all the students who finally get admission generally get hostel facilities.
NIOH also has a 50-bed hospital where surgical corrections and rehabilitative programmes take place. Since patients from across the country come to the hospital, it also offers good learning opportunities for students. “Because of the hospital, students in our institute can gain first-hand knowledge of some of the most complicated cases that they might encounter in the future,” says Pankaj Bajpai, head of the occupational therapy department, NIOH.
The institute also serves as a documentation and information centre in the field of orthopaedics. “Since we treat and come across some of the most challenging cases in locomotor disabilities, our records about the cases and research studies can be of great help to other institutes around the country. We have a very good computerised resource centre,” says Bajpai.
In fact, NIOH’s research has resulted in rehabilitative aids, adaptive devices and splints of excellent quality. “We have a very robust research team and I can say with some pride that some of our inventions have been used successfully by patients from across the country,” says Bajpai.
The director of NIOH says that there is scope for further improvement. “One of our aims is to improve research and development in our institute and of course, we want the institute to be recognised as a centre of excellence,” says Kumar.
Soumya Samantray, a final year student in occupational therapy, says that it is the research-oriented work in the institute that attracts her. “If I am able to help and design programmes for physically challenged children so that they can play and work to their best potential, I think that will be the ultimate thing,” she says.
Samantray also points out that since NIOH is a government-aided institution, the fees are low. Her tuition fee and hostel charges come to around Rs 30,000 per annum. “Moreover, the standard of education is so high here,” says Samantray.
The institute’s faculty strength stands at around 30, with a 1:10 student ratio. “Our faculty members have presented research papers at several national and international seminars, and they have been well-appreciated,” says Bajpai.
Beeline of employers
Although the institute currently doesn’t have a campus recruitment cell, NIOH helps students with placements. “Most of our students are absorbed by some of the top hospitals and rehabilitation centres in the country,” proclaims Kumar. The institute is also trying to get classified as a deemed university, says the director.
NIOH’s library is well-stocked with around 6,000 books. It also subscribes to some of the top international journals in the field.
Besides providing consultancy services to state governments and voluntary agencies, NIOH also organises training programmes and camps to spread knowledge about the latest developments in the field. “Our training programmes are very popular amongst professionals as they get to learn about many new techniques and advances,” says Bajpai.
V. Kumara Swamy
WHAT IS IT' NIOH offers bachelors and postgraduate courses in orthopaedics.
WHO’S THE BOSS' Dr Ratnesh Kumar is the director.
WHen was the institute established' In 1978.
To which institute is it affiliated' University of Calcutta.
What is the student ratio' 1:10.
WHich ministry is it under' The Union ministry of social justice & empowerment.
WHere is it located' B.T. Road, Bon-Hoogly, Calcutta-700090. Telephone: 25313232 / 0279 Website: www.nioh.in