A Bengaluru Startup Uses Cane To Build Prosthetic Legs
Prosthetic legs made with cane cost far less than the imported ones.
Cane is usually used to build lightweight furniture. Robotics engineer Arun Cherian makes cost-effective prosthetic legs out of it.
“It was curiosity. If cane is a spring and human leg is a spring, can I make a leg out of it? One thing led to an another,” said Cherian, 32.
After a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University, Cherian was pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Purdue University when he quit to start Rise Legs.
Cherian came up with the idea during a vacation back home and reached out to local artisans to find out if cane could indeed be used to make prosthetic legs. Once the craftsmen gave him the desired mould, the next step was to run mechanical trials, he told BloombergQuint in an interview.
“I ended up at the aerospace department of Indian Institute of Science (IISC) in Bengaluru and they had the right machines to test it. The results turned out to be far better than we had expected,” he added.
Rise Legs tied up with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) – Association of People With Disability – in Bengaluru and started making prototypes tested by volunteers from the association.
They performed very well. An adult who had lost both the legs started kicking a football on the third day and went on to participate in a marathon.Arun Cherian, Founder, Rise Legs
Now, just over a year old and with 50 customers, Rise Legs can also customise prosthetic legs for the agile or those interested in sports.
“Prosthetic leg is not just a functional device but an extension of oneself and has a human element to it. We give the customer choices from having a naked structure to the one that is cosmetically covered and can be colour-matched to the skin tones or art works,” said Cherian.
While the basic prosthetic leg made by Rise Legs costs Rs 4,000 and is far cheaper compared to the imported ones, a Jaipur-based non-profit organisation -- Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti -- offers prosthetic legs fabricated from polyethylene pipes free.
Rise Legs is now also working on developing wheelchairs for athletes and dancers.
Building An Ecosystem
People from as far as Australia, the West Indies, Uganda, Tunisia Mexico and Argentina are now reaching out, said Cherian. The aim is to grow in a phased manner and not at the cost of quality or after-sales, he said.
The objective, he said, was to build an ecosystem which would create awareness programmes to encourage users to take up activities like dancing, sports and fitness. He did concede though that its still hard to get doctors, cane artisans and amputees in the same room and get them to agree to do such a thing. But technology, said Cherian, talks for itself.