A recent study of wheelchair users highlights the need for investment and innovation in the development of assistive technologies for people with limited mobility. Nine out of ten (94%) Indian wheelchair users say that they experience pain as a result of their mobility device.
The research conducted by ComRes on behalf of Toyota Mobility Foundation, polled wheelchair users in five countries around the world found that 46% say they experience back pain at least once a day, a third (33%) say they experience neck pain at least once a day, 27% say they experience shoulder pain at least once a day and 22% say they experience constant pain. The study also found that Indian wheelchair users experience repetitive strain injury (RSI) and pressure sores (32% and 27% respectively).
According to Census 2011, persons with a disability make up for 2.21% in India’s population. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been helping this 2.21% to get socially accommodated through equal opportunities and rights in the society. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2016 raised the question of the need to create an inclusive infrastructure to facilitate greater independence among the differently-abled.
The study reveals that more than half (51%) of Indian wheelchair users report needing assistance travelling to destinations, while 46% say they have been unable to find an accessible toilet when they needed one. Furthermore, 45% of Indian wheelchair users reported having to wait for multiple buses or trains to pass before one had space to accommodate them, while a third (33%) say they have been declined entry on to public transport.
People with lower-limb paralysis, around the world, are being encouraged to take part in a global conversation about the types of mobility technology innovations they would like to see, using the hashtag #MyMobilityUnlimited.
The Toyota Mobility Foundation launched the $4 million dollar global challenge, with the aim of changing the lives of people with lower-limb paralysis. The Mobility Unlimited Challenge is seeking teams around the world to create game-changing technology that will help radically improve the mobility and independence of people with paralysis. Anything from exoskeletons, to artificial intelligence and machine learning, from cloud computing to batteries inclusion will be rewarded in the development of personal mobility devices incorporating intelligent systems and solutions of the future.
Ryan Klem, Director of Programs for Toyota Mobility Foundation commented, “This research expresses the urgent need for innovation in this area. It’s surprising that with all of the technology we have today, we still have people in constant pain as a result of their mobility devices. The comments we are receiving through social media show the kinds of developments that people want to see and we hope the Challenge will result in genuinely life-changing technologies.”
Around the world, millions of people have lower-limb paralysis (the most common causes being strokes, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis). While there are no statistics on paralysis worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates there are 250,000-500,000 new cases of spinal cord injury globally every year.
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The CSR Journal Team