AI Can Assist Thousands of Indians Searching for Smarter, Cheaper Prosthetic Limbs

by December 24, 2019

According to reports, around 70 percent, nearly 1.3 billion, of India’s population lives in low-income rural areas. And the accidents in these areas result in loss of limbs often ensue by using perilous agricultural machinery, working on rail and road construction, and more. The country has more than half a million amputees, and a large number of inhabitants added to the amputee population every year.

In a report from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, 2.21 percent of India’s population lives with a disability. Of that population, 20 percent have a disability of movement and most live in rural areas. Thus, to assist them, there is a need for AI-enabled device that can replace a missing body part, which may be lost through disease, or a condition present at birth. In this regard, prostheses are aimed at restoring the normal functions of the missing body part.

Prosthetic limbs or artificial limbs provide a person who lost his/her arm or legs the ability to perform daily activities like walking, eating, dressing, among other routine works. There are several companies or startups in the country offering a new approach to artificial limbs or prosthesis design.

Social Hardware, for instance, a company works with non-profit organisations to provide assistive devices and rehabilitation services to those communities in remote and rural areas that are being underestimated from the mainstream. The company’s assistive device, named Avocado Wrist Connector, designed to securely attach agricultural and construction tools to their prosthetics.

The Avocado mass manufacturable prototype that weighed nearly 300 grams but using generative design the team was able to reduce the mass and material until it reached 100 grams, without compromising on strength and articulation. The wrist connector device is affordable and can be fitted to any upper limb prosthesis. It is integrated into the current prosthetics supply chain in India, which is largely made up of products manufactured by the Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation of India (ALIMCO).

One another company, Ossur that developed tiny implanted myoelectric sensors (IMES) through which amputees can control their bionic prosthetic limbs with their minds. The sensors can surgically be placed in a patient’s residual muscle tissue. The company’s implanted tiny sensors in the residual muscle tissue enable amputees to control their bionic leg and foot instantly.

Ossur has designed the system to be compatible with its current bionic devices, which already automatically adapt to its user’s step, speed and ground terrain, but it still requires intentional thought. The company expects that it will be more of a technology upgrade for its current patients and will be on the market within three to five years.