For the millions of people living with spinal cord injuries around the world, technology can have a profound impact on their quality of life. The challenge is advancing the research that makes technology applicable, cost-effective and available for the people they are intended to help.
Today, the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC), IC-IMPACTS and the Rick Hansen Institute announced winners of an international grant competition called the Canada India SCI Innovation Award – Getting Solutions to Market. The five winners were granted $30,000 CAD each and international support in order to accelerate their innovative research in the hopes of making it commercially available to people with spinal cord injuries.
The announcement was made during a special ceremony hosted at ISIC. Dr. V.K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, Government of India and Chairman, Medical Council of India was the Honoured Guest and declared the winners of the awards. This competition is the product of a partnership agreement between the three organizations announced in February 2018 by the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport in New Delhi.
The applications were reviewed by a joint expert committee consisting of members from Canada and India, including research and practitioner communities formed by IC-IMPACTS, Rick Hansen Institute and ISIC. Based on the peer-review, five strong projects emerged:
- Development of portable spine MEG scanner for real time spinal functional evaluation and data acquisition. Teresa Cheung, Simon Fraser University (Canada), Rohit Sharma, IIT, Ropar (India).
- Wearable technology to monitor sitting posture and reduce the pressure injury risk.Hossein Rouhani, University of Alberta (Canada), Chester Ho, University of Alberta (Canada).
- COPE: Community health outcomes and personalized education/exercises for spinal injured individuals. Nishu Tyagi, ISIC (India), Andrei Krassioukov, UBC (Canada).
- Design2Impact: Uniting Researchers, makers and Spinal Injury Survivors through Open-Source Technology. Aaron Yurkewich, University of Toronto (Canada), Stewart Russell, Makers Making Change at Neil Squire Society (Canada).
- Development of wearable artificial muscle for a tetraplegic hand. Harvinder Chhabra, ISIC (India), Sitikantha Roy, IIT Delhi (India).
Project work will commence immediately with the goal of demonstrating the effectiveness of the innovative technologies for the Canadian and Indian marketplace within the next two years.
“Our lives are unpredictable but when tragedy strikes, it is up to us to get up and brave the odds. Spinal cord injury hampers our productivity as well as our mental well-being. These innovators who have developed path-breaking solutions to beat the problems and help the injured deserve our sincerest thanks and gratitude. But scaling up innovations and bringing them to the market have always been a challenge. We need to create an enabling environment so that they feel motivated and inspire more to join the league.”
—Dr. V.K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, Government of India and Chairman, Medical Council of India
“We are thrilled to support these promising and innovative research projects that have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of people living with spinal cord injuries. I am grateful to our partners at ISIC and IC-IMPACTS for a collaboration that can accelerate the rate at which new technologies or knowledge is translated to a real-world setting.”
—Bill Barrable, CEO, Rick Hansen Institute
“Collaboration between Canadian and Indian researchers is incredibly important to advance innovations and to effect real change in both nations, which face similar health, infrastructure and water-related challenges. We are delighted to partner with RHI and ISIC and to support these winning projects, which aim to demonstrate effective technologies that improve the lives of people living with spinal cord injury.”
—Dr. Nemkumar Banthia, CEO and Scientific Director, IC-IMPACTS
“ISIC has always been keen to improve the standard of treatment and care of people living with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and is relentlessly working in that direction. The biggest challenge, apart from cost, is the shortage of aids and appliances to particular need. However, in order to improve the standard of the treatment and care of people with SCI, we have to ensure a steady stream of innovations and innovative ideas that are scaled up and brought to market. We have several talented researchers, clinicians and faculties from reputed institutes of India and Canada at this workshop titled ‘Innovation through Design Thinking’. The workshop is designed to highlight and appreciate their innovative deeds. I am hoping that some of these innovations will soon see the neon of the markets and be useful to those who are waiting for these products for a long time now. ”
—Dr. H.S. Chhabra, Chief of Spine Services & Medical Director, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre