The Infosys Foundation has recognised Aneedh Karma, a polio patient who invented a system to assist physically challenged people.
A native to Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr district, physically challenged Aneesh Karma recently won the Infosys Foundation’s second Aarohan Social Innovations Awards in the healthcare silver category for his innovation, a Knee-Ankle-Foot Orthosis (KAFO).
An innovator from BETiC (Biomedical Engineering and Technology incubation Center) IIT-Bombay, Aneesh’s KAFO offers a solution for those affected by polio, paralysis, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disorders and accidents. The orthosis 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. Not just this, it is compatible with multiple types of footwear, and all this at an affordable price. Unlike the imported orthotics with intelligent sensor systems that control the knee joint through pneumatics, linear springs, hydraulics and torsional rods and are too expensive.
“For any innovator, the initial years are swamped with financial issues that do not necessarily limit, but definitely slow down the pace of developing the innovations. Such monetarily assistance ease the pressure on that front and allows a smooth channel for the process of innovating a device,” says Aneesh.
The awards were organised by the CSR arm of Infosys called the Infosys Foundation, which established the Aarohan Social Innovation Awards in 2018 to recognise and reward individuals, teams, and NGOs for creating unique solutions to support the underprivileged in India, at
Aneesh and his wife, who are both polio patients, were provided low-cost drop-lock calliper splints from the UP government, but they were uncomfortable and inefficient. This led Aneesh to start modifying the design and filing a patent in 2015 with the help of National Research Development Corporation (NRDC). Then, to further solidify his dream and help the 1.2 million Indians who suffer from polio, he joined BETiC-IIT-Bombay in 2018.
“Anyone can be a successful innovator- assuming they have enough fire and have access to a supportive eco-system. This award is a validation of our efforts to nurture promising innovators from rural areas, and to make low-cost medical innovation a reality,” says Prof. B. Ravi, Founder of BETiC.
The KAFO team was rewarded a prize money of 10 lakh by philanthropist and author Sudha Murthy and the non-executive chairman of Infosys, Nandan Nikleni. Meanwhile, Aneesh’s innovation has also won awards such as NCPEDP- Mphasis Universal Design Awards 2019, The Big Idea Summit and Expo 2020, and IIT Kanpur’s 2018 Techkriti Innovator award, among many others. In 2019, Aneesh also won the BIRAC Biotechnology Ignition Grant.