Prashant Gade, a college dropout from MP, India invents low-cost prosthetic arm that uses brain signals. The prosthetic arm, named Inali Arms has sensors that read that signal coming from the brain resulting in the movement of the limb. Unlike most prosthetics which are connected to muscle movements, Inali Arms operate by detecting brain signals. This makes it more accurate as opposed to muscle movements which can easily be misjudged. It mimics technology similar to its imported counterparts, but with cost-effective alternatives, like stainless steel for the inner machine, and a mix of silicon and polyethylene for the exterior, for a more realistic look.
Although, it might sound like just another invention but this big and life changing invention required a will power and Prashant proved that he is an epitome of that persistence. He overcame doubt, dilemma, and discouragement, to find his direction and create a robotic prosthetic arm.
Prashant had always dreamed of becoming an engineer and creating innovative devices that could have a social impact. So when he finally enrolled in an electronic engineering course, it was a dream come true.
But, his high spirits were short lived as every time he would approach a professor with a new idea, they would first ask him about his grades. Sooner did he realise that the world out there was more inclined towards grades and rote-learning than real, practical education. Hence, he dropped out of the college only to come across a post on Facebook about a robotics course. He enrolled for the six-month FAB training course in Pune. While he was pursuing his course, he came across the story of Nicolas Huchet, a Bionico hand-maker, who after losing his hand in an accident, made himself a bionic arm. He was really impressed by what Huchet did but it was the meeting with a seven year old girl which propelled him to work towards this direction. The girl was born without arms and Prashant really wanted to help her but his device wasn’t ready and hence he decided to gift the prosthetic arms to her. However, he was taken aback when he learnt about the cost of the same. After this incident, he was firm that he had to do something. And, this is how he began his quest to perfect a low-cost semi-bionic arm.
But resistance towards his plan on the grounds of practicality continued to come his way. Many people said that he was stupid to throw off a comfortable life that engineering promised. His parents were also not convinced. They thought this to be too early to work for social change. His father would advise him to work on himself first before working for others, and so, he enrolled him into another computer science course. But he was not going to let go.He even tried getting funds through various avenues. Although he did not get any at first, his idea impressed the Technical Secretary of Jaipur Foot, who soon gave him a seed grant to design seven such hands. Overwhelmed, Prashant took a photograph of the cheque and sent it to his father. He wanted to let him know that he was dropping out again to which his father said that he respected his decision. And then, he was on his own, travelling to Jaipur for real experience.
However, working there had its challenges. In a new city, he had to pay for his rent, food, travel and other expenses.
As money began to evaporate, he had to prioritise shelter over meals, eating just once a day. He would just drink water and continue to work on his device, without letting himself be distracted. In hindsight, he continued to pursue funds through various online campaigns and videos.
Soon, his hard work found recognition in the USA, where a retired professor reached out to support him in 2016. They were so happy and supportive that they gifted him ten machines to expedite the work.
At present, Prashant Gade’s invention of Inali Arms is India’s most affordable bionic arm for the differently-abled, priced at Rs 50,000($750) only.
In the last two years, over 700 arms have been designed and given for free, while nearly 300 have been sold across the country.
Inali Arms being just a beginning, Prashant wants to expand further with affordable prosthetic lower limbs and other body implants, making the future of India’s healthcare accessible to all.
Kudos to him! You can listen more about his journey in this video.