Jai Sharma, 32, a traumatised road accident victim, was suffering from a degenerative hip condition, which prevented him from walking briskly or even doing basic things like tying his shoes.
On medical advice, he got artificial hips five years ago. “Now I am pain-free and can move around energetically,” said Sharma, a software engineer.
Many Indians under the age of 40, like Sharma, are now taking help of the medical devices that were once considered to be for the elderly. An analysis by Fortis Escorts Heart Institute found that the number of cardiac patients, aged less than 25 years received by the hospital have jumped from 2% in 2004 to 25% in 2011.
Medical gizmos are now helping youngsters resolve a lifestyle mess created by sedentary desk jobs, affection for speed and bingeing on junk food. And there are now key customers for medical device makers.
Companies are innovating around devices such as stents, joint replacements, pacemakers and insulin syringes to aid young patients.
“Medical device manufacturing companies are focusing more than ever on products for to deliver cheaper, faster, more efficient care for young patients in India,” said Sanjay Banerjee, chairperson, AdvaMed India, a medical device trade association.
Recently, Zimmer, the US-based medical equipment maker, launched several products for young patients. “Our research and development team is constantly striving to design products that meet the specific activity needs of the young patients,” said company’s spokesperson.
Medtronic Inc, the world’s fourth largest medical device maker, is also working on the same lines. “We are allocating more than 10% of turnover on research and development with specific focus on young patients,” spokesperson said.
“About 20% of people below the age of 40 years are now dependent on medical devices like implantable cardiac defibrillators, stents and pacemakers” said Subhash Chandra, associate director, interventional cardiology at Fortis.