IIT Madras develops NeoStand, customisable electric standing wheelchair – ET HealthWorld


Chennai: The Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has developed India’s most customisable electric standing wheelchair, which has been developed indigenously for the benefit of wheelchair users.

The ‘NeoStand’ was launched at the campus in the presence of Prof V Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, eminent dignitaries, generous supporters of this project, faculty, researchers and users of these rehabilitative devices. NeoStand is a compact standing wheelchair with easy-to-use navigation for its motorised standing mechanism. At the touch of a button, wheelchair users can effortlessly transition from sitting to standing, opening a world of possibilities—be it engaging in eye-level conversations, reaching for a book, or simply enjoying a cup of coffee standing by a counter.

The project development was led by Prof Sujatha Srinivasan, Head, TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2), IIT Madras, who also led the development of ‘Arise,’ India’s first manual standing wheelchair, and NeoBolt, the country’s first motorised add-on for wheelchairs. This device has been commercialised and is being taken to the market through NeoMotion, an IIT Madras-incubated start-up.

Prof Kamakoti said, “These are very important translational research works guided by faculty of IIT Madras that have great social impact.”

The electric standing wheelchair redefines the wheelchair experience with its user-centric design. It promises users the freedom to sit for prolonged hours and stand comfortably when needed reducing the risk of secondary health complications. Its compactness ensures easy manoeuvrability through tight spaces, enhancing accessibility. The seamless transition between sitting and standing, with an option to pause midway, underscores its innovative approach to improving users’ quality of life and social participation.

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Dr Henry Prakash, Associate Medical Superintendent, Christian Medical College, Vellore and Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “Today as we navigate the complexities of accessibility, affordability, and societal attitudes, let us keep in mind that the advancements in this field of assistive technology is not a technological imperative, but a moral one too.”

For the majority of wheelchair users across the globe, the ability to stand is far-fetched. Standing is essential for better blood circulation, and digestion, preventing health issues like pressure sores and crucial for daily activities. Currently, users are often dependent on external help and some need to use orthoses. For persons with severe disabilities who have compromised upper body strength, this is a significant challenge, and a manual standing wheelchair is inadequate.

The team at IIT Madras set out to tackle this challenge faced by wheelchair users – the necessity and difficulty of standing. The team was committed to providing users with yet another device aimed at enhancing their independence and health.

The journey from concept to reality was supported by a collaborative ecosystem. The project was sponsored by Tata Elxsi under its corporate social responsibility initiative. The development and design were spearheaded by the TTK Centre for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2) at IIT Madras and NeoMotion, which took the lead in bringing this product to the marketplace.

Speaking on the occasion, Sudhakar Rao, IAS (Rtd), Member, Board of Directors, Tata Elxsi and Chairman of CSR committee, Tata Elxsi, said, “The launch of a new product this evening for the differently abled signifies a turning point in our endeavour to foster inclusiveness and empowerment for individuals who face mobility challenges. As we unveil the electric wheelchair, which was designed and developed by this Centre, it is a fitting moment to acknowledge the significance of providing funding for assistive technologies and the profound changes they can bring about in the lives of individuals.”

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Highlighting the vision behind this project, Prof Srinivasan said, “Integrating standing function in a wheelchair provides health benefits as well as functional and psychological benefits to the user. With NeoStand, the user just needs to use a switch to move from sitting to standing. Even a caregiver or a therapist in a hospital can help the user practise standing in a gradual manner since NeoStand allows the user to stop at intermediate positions, which is important from a therapeutic standpoint.”

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  • Updated On Mar 21, 2024 at 01:09 PM IST
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  • Published On Mar 21, 2024 at 01:08 PM IST
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  • 3 min read
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