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WALKING TALL : DR VIJAY KUMAR NAIK
This led the resident of Ludhiana to the camp at Sukhad Sandhya to meet Dr Vijay Kumar Naik, a prosthetic expert who has developed a knee brace that can help in even the most severe cases of osteoarthritis.
"It allows you to sit cross-legged, drive a car, use an Indian toilet, take the stairs, run and even go on an excruciating Badrinath trail," says the 50 year-old doctor about the corrective brace.
developed it in 1999 at P R Vadhar Artificial Limb Centre
, in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, where he
claims it has helped more than one lakh people walk since then, and is even effective for those in need of knee-replacement surgery.
has put her
brace for the next four months.
"Take it easy, go slow in the beginning," he
has held over 100 arthritis camps in 15 states since 1999.
A camp usually lasts three days to give him time to speak to people about osteoarthritis and how to use the brace, examine every patient individually, take measurements of those who need to be fitted with the brace, and finally supply them with their brace.
Helping him is a team of eight dedicated technicians from the Artificial Limb Centre
two constant companions are his
diary and a photograph of his
wife and two sons.
It was for his
sons Neil and Deip, now 16 and 9 years old, that Naik
quit a lucrative research job at the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation
in New Jersey and came back to India in 1992.
was 37 and wanted his
children to experience Indian culture and the Indian education system.
On his return, he couldn't imagine working at one of the big hospitals with his lack of faith in automated healthcare that dictates the number of specialists you get referred to and minimises contact between patients and doctors.
"I believe doctors should treat people, not just the disease," says Naik
, who chose instead to join the Artificial Limb Centre
in Bhavnagar, with a salary of Rs 3,000 per month.
still remembers his
first impressions of the centre.
"The hospital had 30 people on board and specialised in polio-corrective equipment," he
"I got down from the bus, saw the small building and thought, 'This place needs me, and I can work in peace here'.
For Naik, who was born and raised in Barani, a small Goan village, it wasn't hard to get used to a small house or an office without air-conditioning.
In 1999, Naik
developed the 'myoelectric hand', an artificial hand that functions like a normal one with the help of an electronic network that replaces the nerves that pass messages to the brain - it's popularly known as 'Miracle Hand' and won him the Dr Vikram Sarabhai Young Scientist Award.
Also in 1999 came the brace for osteoarthritis.
received patents for the three technologies in 1997, 2003 and 2005 respectively.
Today, with the help of around 30 NGOs across the country, Naik
is putting the brace to good use.
Last year, an NRI offered to buy the technology, but Naik
"The brace is custom-made," he
"The technology has given jobs to more than 100 technicians working at PNR Society for Relief and Rehabilitation
of the Disabled in Bhavnagar.
Also, it costs Rs 2,100; Rs 2,000 for the brace and Rs 100 as registration fee for the camp.
I don't earn any profit from it and I don't want someone to sell it for more than it is worth.
Dr Mangal Parihar, orthopaedic surgeon at Wockhardt Hospital
in Mumbai, agrees with Naik
"That's how the Jaipur foot has remained so effective.
But it is only a technology that buys time.
It cannot change the shape of your bone.
After all, if you are fat you can either burn off calories, or wear a corset when you go out."
For his part, Dr Nandu Laud thinks Naik
is getting emotional about his science.
will not relent.
wants to keep the technology.
And though profit is not his
doesn't want to give it away for free either.
Colonel (Retd) Kishan Sud, the chief trustee of Sukhad Sandhya
, says, "Initially, I wanted to host the camp for free, but the doctor cautioned me against offering freebies as not even the poorest people understand the worth of anything that comes for free.
is one of Naik's many patrons.
Suffering from osteoarthritis himself, he
in 2003 at a Bangalore camp.
Since then, he
regularly organises a camp at the day-care.
doesn't mind travelling every fortnight to a new city, he
regrets not being with his
family when it counted.
"In the past 13 years my wife has asked me only once to come home, after the earthquake in Gujarat," he
Dr Vijay Naik can be contacted at PNR Society for Relief and Rehabilitation of the Disabled, 53, Vidyanagar, Bhavnagar, 364002, Gujarat; Tel: 0278-2525779; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hindu :Thursday, July 08, 2004
Dr. Vijay Naik, Director, PNR Society for Relief and Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Bhavnagar, has come up with an innovative solution in the form of knee braces.He says, "Osteoarthritis is a ...
India Diaspora: Indians continue to despair in post-apartheid South Africa Sep 30, 2001 The Week
When Vijay Naik was nine years old, he spent 45 days with his left leg in a plaster.And when doctors assessed his compound fracture and said that it could lead to a stumped foot, the boy's father was reduced to tears.The fear, fortunately, proved just that and Vijay has been on his feet ever since.
The incident, however, set Vijay
on a career in prosthetics and orthotics engineering.Now, as the director of the P. R. Vadhar Naik Artificial Limb Centre
in Bhavnagar, in Gujarat, he
has made it his
life's mission to provide succour to the disabled."After that brush with physical disability, I wanted to help people face it!"
Yet no one expected Vijay
, who trained in limb rehabilitation, to settle down in a remote corner of the Gulf of Khambat in Gujarat.He had just spent five years at the Kessler Institute in New Jersey, on a fellowship in rehabilitation.
"But I wanted to work for my countrymen," says Vijay
, 46.So in 1992, he came to Bhavnagar with his wife Neha and son Neil, to hunt for a job. Vijay
first challenge with Mansoor, a diamond-cutter who needed a wooden prosthesis, but one that would enable him to work in a sitting position.The 8 kg conventional foot was cumbersome and restricted his
movement.This set Vijay thinking on developing a better, cheaper model. He
came up with the 'Prabha foot', which enables the disabled to sit cross-legged while working or attending social and religious functions."The Prabha foot has an automatic locking device, is lightweight and easy to maintain.It can be fitted in an hour and requires less than a week's training.The cost is about Rs 4,200 while a conventional foot costs Rs 1 to 2 lakh," says Vijay Naik
who has also developed a prosthesis for children that "you keep adjusting as the child grows".
Getting a grip on life again: A patient (left) fitted with a prosthesis; Vijay Naik
(above right) displays his
'Prabha foot' Every aspect of Indian rural living was considered while designing the Prabha foot in a cosmetically acceptable form.Vijay
believes that the Prabha foot, if produced on a mass scale, has the potential to be exported to countries in Asia and Africa.It is now being manufactured in cottage industries in and around Bhavnagar
The institute has also developed a myo-electronic hand, popularly called the 'miracle hand'."The limb functions like a normal hand with the help of an electronic network which replaces the nerves for passing messages to the brain," explains Vijay
.This technology exists in the US and costs between $16,000 to 20,000.The Bhavnagar
institute plans to produce it for $400.
Visitors from Afghanistan, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone have shown interest in the institute and its work.When Leonard Mark, an attorney for social issues with the Temple of Understanding in the US, came to Bhavnagar
to visit the landmine victims in Africa."Through their organisation, I got linked up with the United Nations and visited Tanzania, Kenya, Angola, Zaire and Ethiopia, to see how best landmine victims can be rehabilitated at minimum cost and time," says Vijay
.When a breadwinner of a poor family loses one or more of his
limbs in a landmine explosion, he
becomes a burden on his
family and society.All that is needed to help the person get back on his
feet is a simple prosthesis or orthosis at affordable prices."
"In India, it is common to see men, women and children with one or both limbs amputated or deformed.The causes could be trauma, vascular diseases and congenital problems," explains Vijay
.Here, the challenge is in assisting women with disability, creating programmes for leprosy patients and those with mental retardation, and the development of community-based rehabilitation facilities."
The institute, which has trained 60 technicians, plans to start an international college of prosthetics and orthetics in Bhavnagar
.It will provide training to aid workers and students from rural India and developing countries."My plan is to introduce specialised courses and enable research activity up to the Ph.D level," says Vijay
.The institute will have a full-fledged manufacturing unit for production of low-cost technologies for the disabled.As a member of the Rehabilitation Council of India, Vijay conducts training programmes across the country.
"For the rural disabled, accessibility to the districts is difficult, so training local people as technicians is important," says Vijay
, adding, "the disabled need long-term treatment including follow-up visits and peer support.Acceptability in family and society is one of the major problems faced by them."
Vijay's contribution in the field of research and development was recently recognised by the Gujarat Council on Science and Technology
, which honoured him with the prestigious Dr Vikram Sarabhai Award.He
has also been busy with the people who survived the January 26 earthquake.
The bank employee was back to work within 42 days thanks to an artificial hand developed by Vijay
.Who can say it's not a miracle?.
Technology Pedal and power
Rickshaws evolve in design and go to the west
Dr. Vijay Naik, consulting ...
Dr. Vijay Naik, consulting prosthetist and orthotist and his team of technicians who have conducted such camps for more than ten years all over India would be conducting the camp.
provides an alternative to surgery through special polycentric knee braces customised to suit the needs of each patient.
The camp was presided over by Dr Vijay Naik of PNR Society, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
...Actor Vikram with Dr Vijay Naik at the
osteo-arthritis camp held in Chennai recentlyDr Vijay Naik of PNR Society said knee replacement surgery cost between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh, while poly-centric braces were priced at Rs 1000 per piece.