Aneesh’s KAFO (knee ankle-foot orthosis) innovation has won multiple awards

The story of Aneesh Karma, an innovator from BETiC IIT-Bombay, winner of the 10th NCPEDP Mphasis Universal Design Awards is one of courage.

Coming from a humble background, born to illiterate parents, Aneesh was afflicted by polio in his childhood. His innovation, the knee ankle-foot orthosis (KAFO) offers a solution for those affected by polio, paralysis, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders and accidents.

The device is superior to the free drop-lock callipers provided by the Government. The drop-lock callipers are uncomfortable and stiff, they do not allow activities such as climbing stairs, boarding vehicles or cycling. They weigh 3 kgs and also result in an abnormal gait.

Aneesh’s KAFO is versatile, with a 135-degree angle flexion for squatting, walking and cycling. It weighs only 1.3 kg, and can provide support to an individual weighing up to 120 kg. Along with all of this, it is multiple footwear compatible and affordably priced. Imported orthotics, with intelligent sensor systems which control the knee joint through pneumatics, linear springs, hydraulics and torsional rods are too expensive.

On receiving the award, Aneesh, who has completed his education only unto his 12th standard shared that “In India there are 1.2 million Polio patients, while in the world, there are over a 100 million patients with Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis. However, only 40,000 calipers have been supplied per year in India by ALIMCO, BMVSS & NSS. This is due to how expensive it is."

In 2015, Aneesh filed a patent with the help of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC). In 2018, Aneesh joined the BETiC Lab to further develop his design of the advanced knee ankle-foot orthosis. Aneesh went on to file his second patent in the same year and bagged the BIG Idea Summit 2018 Award. In 2019, Aneesh also won the BIRAC Biotechnology Ignition Grant.

Arman Ali, ED of NCPEDP says '' the mechanically-actuated stance-controlled KAFO is an innovation with potential. It gives independence to those with impaired mobility and allows them to earn a livelihood and live with dignity.”

Aneesh’s mentor at BETiC IIT Bombay, Prof B Ravi says,” Even 72 years after independence, 78 % of these products are imported. Indigenous medical device innovation like KAFO can bridge this gap.”

“I could not finish my education due to our poor financial condition. But I didn’t want to bow down to fate. Any kind of disability should not become an obstacle to success. It was my dream to invent better callipers for myself and others like me,” sums up Aneesh.

Aneesh is now also looking to develop prosthetics for individuals with spinal conditions. He is also looking to incubate a start-up company to scale up innovation in order to benefit many others.

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