3D-Printed Limbs Is A Tech Fetish That Is Improving Thousands Of Lives In India Illuminating The Rise In National Healthcare

Indian medicine has recorded some of the most amazing milestones in 2018, and when we are just a month away to close this year, the country just tucked another feather in its cap. Bridging the gap between beyond affordable imported prosthetics and less-trustworthy local alternatives, 3D printing of limbs is the popular new solution. With the country’s current focus on creating solutions using AI and IoT for challenges faced in the healthcare sector, this technology is a major accomplishment which is helping thousands of people to ease their lives. 

Replacing the imported myoelectric hands that used to cost a fortune, the startup markets and private hospitals have developed myo-hand that cost around 40,000 Rupees. Not only now people from the lower strata of the society will be able to purchase such medical items, but it will also promote a better lifestyle to help them recover. 

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Startups Starting Up With Healthcare Technologies

When 10-year-old Niruka lost her right hand in an unfortunate accident including high-tension wires, her family almost lost hope of her ever writing or painting again. But today, an India-made prosthetic is helping her do all those things and more without robbing her family of their hard-earned money. “She’s using it very well. She recently sent me a painting that she had drawn with her artificial hand,” says Sadhna Nepali, who assisted with the prosthetic made by Delhi-based firm P & O International. 

A Bangaluru started called Rise Legs also took a walk down the unconventional lane to find the best-suited material for producing quality but affordable prosthetics. Looking at all the old cane furniture in her house, Founder Arun Cherian developed ‘cane’ as a base material. “I noticed that cane can bend in different shapes, it is light and can take the human weight. These properties could very well be applied to make a prosthetic,” says Cherian. 

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3D Printing to be the next big thing

In order to bring down the costs further, he asked local artisans to shape the canes in the size of a foot. “Making a socket in which the cane foot would fit was more challenging. So, I developed a special 3D carving technique which drastically reduced the time used to make a socket and its cost,” says Cherian who now proposes a price from Rs 5,000 to Rs 1.25 lakh. Dr. Anil K Bhat, a hand surgeon from Manipal is also using the 3D printing technology to help children born with deformed or no hands. As of now, we are not charging anything for the prostheses but at the maximum, they will cost Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000. With these limbs, children can hold a pen, write, hold a ball or bat, lift objects. And they are 75% lighter than conventional prostheses,” says Dr. Bhat, head of orthopedics at Kasturba Hospital, Manipal.

Pioneer companies in the business of orthopedics are also adopting the technical upgrades to better serve their customers. Along with MoU and MIT, they are they are developing a new foot model for those who have lost the below-knee part to help them walk, run and perform regular activities. “It will be lighter, cheaper and give more mobility,” says V R Mehta, executive president of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti. Previously they have developed Jaipur knee, a knee joint for above-knee amputees which just costs Rupees 1,400 as compared to the market rate of 7 lakh rupees. 

Aiming at improving healthcare standards, this year was all about innovations, adaption, and never seen before technology that can change lives. Along with 3D-printing and other mediums, keeping in mind factors like costs and availability play a crucial role in establishing how effective the efforts of the country are. But with a pace like this continued, the face of Indian medicine is on the verge of a revolution. 

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