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An underwear with cushions

delhi Updated: Jan 06, 2012 00:32 IST
Rhythma Kaul

There may finally be a product in the market that would prevent hip fracture among elderly due to a bad fall.

Named as the hip protector, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has designed a special underwear that will have cushions or padding on both the sides, right over the hip bones. This would prevent the joints from fracturing in case of a fall.

“As their reflexes weaken with age, older people are not able to break the fall using the wrist and fracture mostly the hip joint,” said Dr Rajesh Malhotra, professor, department of orthopaedics, AIIMS, who is part of the team working on the project. “Studies have shown that chances of hip fractures reduce to one-third, with the use of hip protectors,” he said.

About 4.5 lakh people suffer from hip fractures in India every year.

“Chances of dying due to hip fracture are about 30 per cent within one year of the injury. Only 40 per cent of those who suffer hip fracture walk normally, the rest require some support. Hence, prevention becomes necessary,” he said.

The product looks like any regular underwear from outside, but from inside, it has been designed innovatively by the mechanical engineering department of IIT Delhi to suit the need of the elderly.

Pieces of a special material, which is a kind of silicon used in implants, are stitched to the pockets of the underwear on both sides. The material has been designed to withstand the impact of the fall. “The impact is five times higher than in products available globally. It will be available at one-tenth the price,” said Professor Naresh Bhatnagar, mechanical engineering department, IIT Delhi. A piece should maximum cost R500.

The product can be washed and dried in the machine like any garment. The institute has developed a technique for in-house manufacturing.

The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, has funded the project. “In six months, we will begin trials on the target group,” he said.