Volume 3 Issue 22 - November 15, 2005

Camera study by I.S.I.C. to pave wave for wheelchair for Indian conditions

D.N.I.S News Network – One of the greatest problem areas for people with disability in India has been the availability of assistive devices that leaves them either with low-quality options or the ones that are made in developed countries suitable for conditions prevailing there.

In a step to address this issue, the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (I.S.I.C.), in association with and University of Pittsburgh, have announced the plan for a joint qualitative study to design a wheelchair that goes well with the Indian environment

The study titled “Evaluation of the Environmental Constraints of Rural and Urban India for Wheeled Mobility”, will gather information on environmental constraints and develop an understanding of barriers faced by wheelchair users.

According to a release issued by the Centre, it is estimated that nearly eight million people in India need wheelchairs. The most common design of manual wheelchairs is based on older designs and is only suitable r for a hospital environment.

While in the West, recent advancements have resulted in wheelchairs that suit the outside physical environment,things have not changed much in India. Invariably, wheelchair users in the country have to either use the wheelchair meant for hospitals or the one that suits the western physical environment.

“Wheelchair designers and clinicians unanimously agree that to provide the best wheelchair, the designers and clinicians must be informed on the physical environment that the wheelchair user must propel or drive in. Therefore, we decided to conduct this study,” said Dr. H.S. Chabra, Chief of Spine Service, I.S.I.C.

Major H.P.S. Ahluwalia, Chairman of I.S.I.C., said: “For many city-dwellers, today's modern cities and towns may be convenient and fascinating places for working and living, offering a great variety of opportunities and experiences. But for a physically challenged person, such built environments can be full of uncertainties, anxieties and dangers.”

The study is being conducted on 100 wheelchair users between the age group of 18-65. The users are capturing their stills in camera while performing different activities from the wheelchair. They are also documenting their home and community environment and specifying physical environments that are difficult to overcome.

This information eventually will give an informative cross-sectional profile of the user and his/her environment. Information inferred from this study will then be used to guide wheelchair design and clinical service delivery.

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