Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG) have developed an affordable prosthetic leg with advanced features, specifically designed for Indian conditions.
The IIT Guwahati said on Monday that the artificial limb allows its user to sit cross-legged and squat deep and is suitable for uneven terrain.
“Affordable prosthetics that are available in the market have many functional limitations. In addition, the Indian lifestyle and uneven terrain require prosthetics with specifications unique to India, which are not widely available in the market. The leg developed by us is state-of-the-art technology, affordable, light weight, stable and capable of mimicking most of the human joint’s motion, the IIT-G said, adding cost of around Rs 25,000 is ensured using the technology.
IIT Guwahati researchers collaborated with 151 Army Base Hospital, Guwahati, Tolaram Bafna Kamrup District Civil Hospital, Guwahati Neurological Research Centre (GNRC), North Guwahati, and North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGHRIMS), Shillong, to develop the leg.
The research for developing the leg was funded by the Union ministry of education and the department of biotechnology.
A team led by professor S. Kanagaraj, department of mechanical Engineering, IITG, set out to tackle these issues. Prototypes of their models developed by this research team are currently undergoing trials.
Listing out the leg’s unique features, Kanagaraj said: “The knee joint developed by our team has a spring assisted deep squat mechanism, which helps to use the Indian toilet system more comfortably. It has a wide range of motion.”
The knee rotating mechanism also helps sit cross-legged.
“The locking mechanism helps to reduce the fear of falling of patients while walking in an unknown terrain; adjustable link length in a knee helps to have either more stability or easy flexing depending on age and requirement of the patients. Overall, the knee joint is designed to meet the Indian lifestyle which other products fail to fulfill,” the professor said.
Dwelling on the other artificial legs, he said Jaipur Foot is one kind of leg, which has “very limited” functionality.
Robotic legs provide advanced features but are “extremely” costly and do “not” help in Indian specific lifestyle issues and have high maintenance cost, he added.
“Our team developed a leg that attains the perfect balance between expense and functionality for the specific issues of the Indian lifestyle. Cross-legged sitting and knee bending, important for all religious activities in our county, as well as activities like yoga, are possible using our legs. Indian toilets require deep squatting and assistance in standing up, possible using our legs. Additionally in uneven terrain conditions, our special knee and ankle provide assistance,” Kanagaraj said.
Professor Bhaskar Borgohain, head of department (Orthopaedic) at NEIGHRIMS told The Telegraph that work on the project started in 2013 with the objective of developing a “user-friendly and light weight” limb.
He has been associated with the project from the beginning.
“The legs developed by us will not only help cut down on imports of prosthetic legs, especially from Germany and UK, but will also be a huge relief to those in need of such legs. An imported artificial limb will cost anywhere between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh. Our legs would cost much less. It will be launched soon,” Borgohain said.