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Rehabilitation Engineering

Principal Investigators: Lester John, Sudesh Sivarasu

Smart Glove for Leprosy Rehabilitation

With 160 000 to 170 000 new cases each year, India has the highest burden of leprosy, followed by Brazil (interestingly, Ireland recently reported two cases); in India there are dedicated leprosy hospitals. In South Africa, the figures are low, some 50 to 70 new cases annually, predominantly in the Eastern Cape and from neighbouring countries like Swaziland. ‘The Smart Glove’ tracks pressure points on the palms and fingers and helps prevent injuries to hands and digits as a result of nerve damage and sensory loss. It is being tested at the Leprosy Mission in New Delhi, India. The glove also maps the individual’s hand usage to establish where the pressure variations are during simple domestic activities like cutting wood or cooking. These are recorded to show where ulcers are likely to develop.

Automated Pressure Shifting Mattress in Prevention of Decubitus Ulcers

Pressure Ulcers (PU) are a major health challenge, particularly for the geriatric population in critical/ acute care settings. Among the victims 73% are in the age group of 65 years and above. PU is also prevalent in patients under intensive monitoring and it is said that 28.7% of the ICU patients are prone to develop these sores. Affected patients experience long stay in hospital, pain, discomfort, increased morbidity, secondary infection, increased mortality and diminished quality of life. This research is aimed at preventing the cause, namely accumulation of excess pressure over the bony prominences causing an increase in the capillary pressure, which may lead to necrosis. Hence the proposal is to develop a sensor based automated pressure shifting technology for robust shift of pressure from pressure vulnerable regions, especially from the bony prominences.

REMAP-Walker: Orthotic Exoskeleton for Mobility in Paraplegics

Roughly 1% of the world's population relies on wheelchairs for mobility. This means approximately 3 million Americans, 5 million Europeans, a total of roughly 10 million citizens from developed countries and 60 million people worldwide rely on wheelchairs. While the wheelchair has dramatically improved in quality over the past decades, the options for people with mobility disorders have been limited. Wheelchair users can suffer from multiple health issues arising from lack of mobility and the secondary complications of wheelchair use: urinary tract infection, bowel incontinence, cardiovascular problems, as well as metabolic and skin related problems. The assistive paraplegic walker is being designed to provide mobility to non-ambulatory wheelchair users, and enhance endurance or aid mobility of those able to walk with crutches.