Assistive Technology experts at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre have created a uniquely innovative assistive device to help a Pakistani man regain a significant amount of normalcy in his daily life; years after a tragic accident back home left him with amputated arms and a devastated life.
Rano, 41, suffered a life-altering accident at his workplace five years ago in Pakistan. An employee at an electrical department, Rano suffered irreparable damage to both his arms after suffering an electric shock from high-tension cables. He had to undergo bilateral upper limb amputation. While his left arm was amputated from the shoulders, he lost his right arm from just above the elbow.
The shock also affected his lower limbs taking away nearly 20% of the functionality, with a greater damage to the toes. The incident changed his entire life making him completely dependent on his family even for smaller daily activities such as drinking, feeding, brushing etc.
After consulting many doctors in Pakistan, Rano recently traveled to India on an invitation from a company that offered him an imported robotic arm to help lead his daily life. Unfortunately, the advancement did not work for Rano and he further visited another organization, which suggested cosmetic prosthesis to him. Despite initial hope, Rano was left extremely disappointed when even this technique failed to provide him any relief. He limbs remained dysfunctional and he continued to remain dependent on his family.
The organization then referred him to the Department Assistive Technology of Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) where assistive technology experts work towards finding innovative solutions to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities to lead normal and independent lives.
After inspecting him for any physical pain or injury due to the accident, the doctors at ISIC sought the help of engineers of the Assistive Technology Department.
Mr Nekram Upadhyay, Head, Department of Assistive Technology, ISIC examined Rano closely and witnessed first-hand his disappointment and yearning for some amount of independence and normalcy. His interactions with the patient and a close analysis of his needs led him to create an innovative low-cost assistive device that gave him movement and ability to do tasks that earlier he was not able to do.
"When Rano came to us, he was very disappointed and dejected. He was extremely unhappy about his dependency on his wife for simple things like drinking water and food. Besides these regular hand movements, he was also not able to stand from a sitting position due to non-functionality of the cosmetic prosthesis, which met the aesthetics needs but offered no movement. So, I asked him the first 5 things that he would want to do with his hands, to which he replied 'drinking, feeding, , brushing, writing and operating a mobile phone'. We then created an innovative low cost small assistive device that was attached just above his elbow. We are happy to see that our innovation was a success and it gave Rano the ability to become self independent at least for daily basic needs," said Mr. Nekram Upadhyay.
The inclusion of assistive device did not require any clinical intervention. The device acts like an artificial hand that helps him to get a grip of things. Assistive devices are created based on the 'patient-driven approach' where a patient is clinically evaluated for developing the innovative and appropriate assistive devices.
"We are very happy to see the relief on Rano's face. The device created is first of its kind. At Department of Assistive Technology, ISIC, every day we create something new as the fabrication of the device is based on the requirements and needs of the patients. We primarily use some technological solution for complex issues with a low cost approach. We are happy that with our work and its success our assistive technology department would be known in India as well as in Pakistan. We are really relieved that we could help Rano who came from across the border. The satisfaction on his face and the joy of independency is worth watching," added Mr Upadhyay.
Rano and his family are happy that his visit to India did not go in vain, and that he would be able to return home with greater independence in his daily life and will also be able to return to work to earn his livelihood.