After Jaipur Foot, innovators in Rajasthan have now come up with Jaipur Belt, an unpowered and lightweight exoskeleton which, according to its inventors, reduces the load on the spine by up to 80 per cent. Clinical trials are set to begin soon.
The story of innovation starts eight years ago when Ganesh Jangir, then a student of class XII, used to work on a farm during his vacations in Nagaur.
“My back used to ache while working. When I asked others, they said they also experienced similar pain,” Jangir told The Indian Express. “The workers complained that the doctors would prescribe painkillers but the pain returned soon,” he said.
In 2008, Jangir set out to find a way to reduce the burden on the spine. He approached the National Innovation Foundation as well as the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and received financial support for his project. Soon after, he shifted to Jaipur.
“Since I required feedback from doctors, I approached the Dr P K Sethi Rehabilitation Centre, Santokba Durlabhji Hospital, Jaipur, in 2012,” said Jangir, who is now 27.
Over the years, the project has been evolving. In 2014, the work was presented to the Indian Merchant Chambers, Mumbai, and was selected among the best five innovations of 2014 in India. The same year, Jangir launched his Jaipur Belt company, Newndra, in Nagaur.
Last year, Jangir was nominated for a fully sponsored participation in Global Entrepreneurship Summit. Earlier this year, the belt was selected for US, India Science and Technology Endowment Fund with US partner Medspark from California, among others. Along the way, it also received appreciation from former President A P J Abdul Kalam and former CSIR chief R A Mashelkar; the company has also filed more than six patents and Intellectual Property rights claims in India and abroad.
“It’s very useful for workers in manufacturing, construction, and all labour-intensive industrial units such as Medium Small and Micro Enterprise and the agriculture sector. It works well for the people who have to bend down and pick up heavy things frequently or have spinal pain or problems such as mild kyphosis, spondylitis etc,” said Dr Anil Jain, head of rehabilitation department at Santokba Hospital.
“After an exhaustive year-long work, its design and materials have been completely changed. Initially, it was cumbersome to use. It was modified and its weight was reduced by replacing metal parts with thermoplastics. The soft material cover made it easy to use and cosmetically more acceptable by patients,” Jain said.
“The newly-designed Jaipur Belt spinal brace is now ready for extensive clinical trials to be conducted at Dr P K Sethi Rehabilitation Centre at our hospital, in association with Prof. Rajesh from Malviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur,” he said.