Two students of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT-M) have developed a wheelchair prototype that allows users to sit, stand and recline too.
The wheelchair, which allows users to manually operate it, has controls for the sitting, standing and reclining functions. It has been designed to allow users to operate it easily. To ensure the user does not fall down when she attempts to lean forward, the device has a provision to strap in the user across the trunk and legs.
Initially, Harshal Girish Chaudhary, now 23 and working at a firm in Al-Khober in Saudi Arabia, started this project for his final year thesis in August 2011, under the guidance of Sujatha Srinivasan, an associate professor at the mechanical engineering department of IIT-M.
By June 2012, he had developed the wheelchair prototype. His innovation won him the Jed-i project challenge, at a competition held at the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore.
After he finished the project and his course, he left the prototype at the stage where it got to a standing position. Later, after he left, Sushant Veer then in his second year at IIT-M, took up the project and worked on it. With his input, the wheelchair now easily glides to a reclining position as well.
“Such a wheelchair will help improve the user’s health. Since most users need to sit in a wheelchair for long hours, they become sore, and their blood circulation is affected. This one, which allows reclining and standing, could help them significantly,” Ms. Srinivasan said.
At present, Sushant, now 22 and in his final year, is fine-tuning the model and working on some detailing which, Ms. Srinivasan said, would be completed in a few months.
A patent has been filed for the prototype and the creators plan to tie up with a manufacturer who may be willing to make it affordable, by pricing it reasonably.
“Right now, wheelchairs that unbend to standing positions cost Rs. 70,000. But this prototype does not copy any other model, and has the additional facility of reclining and will only cost around Rs. 15,000,” she added.