Electronic Aids for Physically/Mentally Handicapped Children

Karthik Kulkarni and Team, Hubli India

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Description
We IEEE – B.V.Bhoomaraddi College of Engineering & Technology ’s Electronics & Communication Branch students have taken up an exciting venture to use Electronics to help Physically/Mentally Handicapped children of USHAS Center for Exceptional Children, Hubli (www.ushas.org ) by developing games/devices/toys etc that will create excitement/interest in the children to play them & hence undergo physical/mental exercise which is prescribed to them to overcome their disability but normally tend to neglect due to lack of enthusiasm & interest. Physical exercise such as muscle movement, limb movement, blowing/sucking actions, hand – eye coordination, eye movement etc & mental exercise such as imitation, response to quick stimuli, logical thinking etc are some of the outcomes of these projects. 3 Modules in the project are taken up with the following goals: A) Walking Tutor – Leg Exercising Aid/Game 1) To slow progression of complications, avoid/delay contractures in children having Muscular Dystrophy – by exercising their joints. 2) To bring joy and maximize the subject’s quality of life, bring respite to sick children – by making the system fun to use by incorporating fancy lighting and music, make it look more like a game than like a course. 3) To improve eye-limb coordination in growing children. 4) To improve the Auditory and visual Reflexes. B) Chitra Vallari – To enhance cognitive abilities 1) Enhancement of Visiuo motor coordination 2) Enhancement of cognitive function 3) speech training

Solution
To obtain the above goals, Electronic techniques & devices such as Microcontrollers, Speech storage Integrated Circuits, Speakers, Touch sensors, lights, Music Integrated circuits, Stepper Motors etc have been. The required circuitry has been designed , tested and soldered on silicon chips and implemented robustly. Algorithms have been formed for the above mentioned games, processes etc and have been coded in assembly language for the microcontrollers. The electronic circuits are interfaced with the required mechanical assemblies. These projects are implemented and tested on the physically/mentally handicapped students of USHAS Centre for Exceptional Children (www.ushas.org ). Continuous feedback is being taken & changes/improvements are being done. The project is being carried out with the vision of mass production of these electromechanical modules for replicating/scaling at different locations. Plan of action: Month one:  Week one – Visiting the students at USHA school (an institute for the disabled), Hubli.  Week two – Detailed analysis & planning of the electronic aids to be developed.  Week three – Designing the electronic circuit.  Week four – making a prototype model. Month two:  Week one – Testing the materials for strength and durability.  Week two – Making the unit a stand-alone system and troubleshooting if any.  Week three – Implementing it in the school.  Week four – Feedback analysis & modifications. These projects are funded by The Deshpande Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, Sankalp Semiconductors private limited & B.V.Bhoomaraddi College. The modules of the project were developed in the year 2008 & Jan 2009. The were implemented & tested on Physically/Mentally Handicapped children of USHAS Center for Exceptional Children, Hubli (www.ushas.org ), continous feedback from the doctors & the tutors of these children is being taken & an effort has been triggered towards standardizing these modules for mass production so that they can be implemented/scaled at different locations with mobility.

Impact
Physical disabilities in children can be detected in early stages. A child who cannot walk properly for example, has to be motivated to walk so that he can have better and healthier legs. It can also help strengthen muscles and improve the reflexes of incapacitate and growing children. The concept for the project was suggested by Mr. R. S. Okhade of the USHAS Center for exceptional children, Hubli. Walking disability in children is a major health problem in India and other developing countries. The disability may be genetic, hereditary (Muscular Dystrophy) or due to the injuries, etc. Irrespective of the cause, lesser use of leg joints leads to improper growth of leg muscles, consequently leading to walking impairment. The rate of impairment increases, if not addressed appropriately and may eventually end up in permanent disability. There are various kinds of muscular disabilities. For example, Muscular Dystrophy. A quarter of a million kids and adults are living with Muscular Dystrophy. It is a genetic disorder that weakens the muscles that help the body move. All forms of muscular dystrophy, however, grow worse as muscles progressively degenerate. MD weakens muscles over time, so children, teens, and adults who have the disease can gradually lose the ability to do things like walking or sitting up. There are things that children with MD and other muscular disabilities can do to help their muscles. Certain exercises and physical therapy can help them avoid contractures, a stiffening of the muscles near the joints that can make it harder to move and can lock the joints in painful positions. A program of regular, light exercise can help keep muscles in good condition. So there’s a need to design a tool that can help the muscles of disabled children and at the same time, make it interactive and fun. The Walking tutor serves this purpose. There are many children with mental disorders. One of them is the children with disorder related to eyes. They have eye fixation and eye tracking problem. Eye Trainer equipment trains them to overcome these problems. This equipment also helps to train the cerebral palsy children. Symptoms of cerebral palsy can be as simple as having difficulty with fine motor tasks like writing or using scissors, tracking of a moving object, concentrating on an object, or as profound as being unable to maintain balance or walk. Mentally challenged children face many problems in cognitive processing.By using technology, we can enhance these cognitive abilities. “ chitra vallari” is a specifically designed for the enhancement of following cognitive abilities: 1)Visiuo motor coordination 2)cogniotive function 3)speech training “ chitra vallari” is a very flexible device which can record/playback voice. It contains a set of pictures and each picture can be changed according to instructor’s wish. These Projects are being used & enjoyed by the students of USHAS institute under the supervision of Tutors & doctors & they are finding it a good aid which is helping their work! We are working closely with them by taking their suggestions & feedback periodically & improvising the system. Links & Photos: 1) http://www.kulkarnikarthik.com/2009/walking-tutor-excercising-aid-for-physically-disabled-children/ 2) http://www.kulkarnikarthik.com/2009/chitra-vallari-project-to-enhance-enhance-these-cognitive-abilities-in-the-physicallymentally-handicapped-children-of-wwwushasorg/ 3)http://www.kulkarnikarthik.com/2009/eye-rotator-eye-movement-exercise-for-physically-handicapped-children-of-wwwushasorg/

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