RehabMaker Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia has continuously won the gold award in this year’s international prestigious innovation competitions; Invention, Innovation and Design Exposition (IIDEX2020), Malaysia Technology Expo (MTE2020), and International, Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition (ITEX2020).
RehabMaker UiTM, a social innovation team, carrying the theme, “Empowering Communities Through Social Innovation”, gathered experts, leaders, and people in academia to brainstorm design and produce adaptive assistive device (AAD) for people living with disabilities (PWD) especially the one with lower income and B40 income groups in Malaysia which represent the bottom 40% of income earners.
Assistive adaptive devices or shortly known as AAD is one of the interventions to assist PWD to perform activities of daily living and reduce dependency level. World Health Organization (WHO) survey has reported that globally, 1 billion people need one or more assistive products. However, accessibility to AAD is limited to only 5-15% in middle- and low-income countries. As a reaction to this problem, WHO has declared accessibility to AAD as a human right. Acknowledging the increasing number of PWD that need AAD, the recent United Nations convention has included the accessibility to assistive technology into its action plan.
In Malaysia, the total reported number of PWD registered at the Department of Social Welfare in 2017 was about 453,258 persons. PWD with physical impairment has been recorded as the highest number which was 35.2%. Disabilities are very diverse which depends on the pathophysiological background, disease, and needs. AAD prescription is one of the interventions to address impairment and improve dysfunction, hence, independence level can be optimized. It is very crucial for the AAD to be customized to conform and amiable to a specific impairment.
However, in Malaysia’s local clinical setting, AAD prescriptions are limited and only address certain functions due to 1) Lack of ideas, limited skills, material, outdated designs, and production and designing methods and also 2) Lack of structured multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary framework.
Realizing this problem, RehabMaker UiTM proposed a multidisciplinary framework which consists of expertise from medical and engineering background to ensure the created products serve the intended function and patient-centric. RehabMaker also exposing academia and students on how to help PWD.
RehabMaker was spearheaded by the Faculty of Medicine UiTM and made possible by the Mechanical Engineering UiTM team comprising staff, and students, with related more to 3D printing technology for a fast and reliable AAD with the help of the Malaysian Academy of SME & Entrepreneurship Development (MASMED) UiTM for NGO registration and social entrepreneur business model canvas.
The team stipulated Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) under good health and wellbeing, industry innovation and infrastructure, and to reduce inequalities. RehabMaker UiTM currently featured 11 AADs, 4 copyrights, 8 publications and 3 Gold Awards in international competitions within one year from its establishment.
More details of RehabMaker works and achievements can be viewed here.