Startup Saturday: lending a prosthetic helping hand

Hindustan Times, Pune | ByNamita Shibad
Jan 05, 2019 03:10 PM IST

Final product will be manufactured with advanced lightweight materials and will be easy on the pocket, claim founders

Prosthetics offer hope to the anguish and despair that amputees feel upon the loss of a body part. While this is good, a lot needs to be done. This is something that Subhojit Basu realised. In 2015 he approached Venture Center and was give a PreProof of concept (Pre-PoC) grant for developing a prosthetic that would offer amputees much more than the existing ones.

From Left: Advait, Pratik and Vishal who have developed a prosthetic hand in Pune.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
From Left: Advait, Pratik and Vishal who have developed a prosthetic hand in Pune.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Due to personal reasons Basu had to leave the venture. Pratik tied up with Vishal Patil and set out to make a better prosthetic hand. In February 2016 they applied for a BIG Grant which they got and then in July of the same year they registered their new entity, DeeDee Labs P Ltd.

“We knew that our hand had to have four basic gestures that would encompass almost all actions that a person needs to do for his daily living activities. These were fist, point, pinch and relax. Then we had to design a ‘hand’ that would be able to translate the commands into actions sought by the person,” said Pratik. To perform the aforementioned gestures they designed a proprietary hardware platform where sensors would pick up surface electromyography [EMG] signals from the residual limb of the amputee. For this ‘hand’ to be used it is important that the stump muscles should give EMG impulses while performing gestures.

Pratik does not want to reveal the materials used and more details as they have yet to enter the market. The final product will be manufactured with advanced lightweight materials “Since our hand will be in touch with the body there are certain medical regulatory approvals that have to follow as mandated by Central Drugs Standard Control Organization( CD SC O ).

Sanjeev Kashyap, prosthetic and orthotist, Sancheti Hospital says that 10% of the total population of India has some form of disability which is 13,00,00,000 people. Of these about 3 to 4% have upper limb amputation which is between 39,00,000 lakhs and 52,00,000 lakhs. “There is a huge market if an Indian company starts manufacturing prosthetic limbs because we can make them far cheaper than the imported ones. I think an Indian company can easily offer a hand prosthetic at 4 lakhs compared to a Chinese one that costs 6 lakhs,” he said.

“So far to my knowledge there are about three or four startups that are developing a bionic hand and only one company is from Pune. They have built some prototypes and have to go through clinical trials. Currently insurance companies do not fund prosthetics and I feel that they should like it is in the Western countries,” said Dr Kashyap.

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