Disabilities are unexpected conditions that occur in the human body which distort its normal functioning. In today’s context there are many of them that are common and rare. However, living with a disability has become a challenge today when taking the amount of work that could be done if the condition didn’t exist in the body. Soldiers, diabetic patients, drug addicts are often vulnerable to suffer with amputated legs and be confined to wheelchairs which is often a tedious task when doing day-to-day activities. Taking this fact in to consideration, Aruna Samarawickrama introduces a quite user-friendly and efficient ‘Live flex’ artificial prosthesis for differently-abled individuals.
Hailing from the Southern province, Aruna Samarawickrama has always been keen on new innovations and after his A/Ls he has chosen motor mechanism for his career. When one of his friends lost his leg in the battle field in 2005 Aruna wanted to make him walk properly again. This encouraged him to invent an artificial limb with ankle movements and other special features which was recognised at the Presidential Awards ceremony in 2005 and at the 35th New Inventors’ Competition held in Geneva, Switzerland where he won a silver medal.
The boost and recognition for the product encouraged Aruna to establish his own company Aawas International (Pvt) Ltd., at the Nagoda Industrial Zone, Kalutara with assistance from the then government to produce lightweight and manoeuvrable artificial legs. The recognition for the product continued when in 2009 he received a bronze medal at the New Invention Fair held in Seoul, South Korea out of more than 1500 inventors representing close to 146 countries. In addition to that he has also won the Dasis Award in 2012 and many other recognitions from various institutions. His other inventions include an automatic safety rail gate, tea pickers’ plucking unit and an active assemble unit for crutches. Now Aruna has been nominated as a finalist for the Ray Award 2015, a coveted award set up in legendary innovator Dr. Ray Wijewardene’s name to recognise outstanding inventions.
While speaking to the Daily Mirror Aruna said, “The ‘Live flex’ leg is solely operated on mechanical systems and not with a supply of electricity. Toes and ankle areas can function similarly to a normal leg when walking, running and climbing stairs. The height of the leg can be adjusted according to the height of a person.” In order to give a natural appearance, the leg is finished with a natural covering with hair follicles similar to a normal leg. Other features include :
Sophisticated design considering the height and weight of the person
Lightweight materials used in its manufacture
Functioning of the ankle and toes depending on the height and weight of the person
In addition to that special treatment is provided at the company premises until the recipient is able to walk properly. During the process training and accommodation is also provided. Unlike other artificial legs, this ‘Live flex’ allows the user to walk and continue their day-to-day activities with no hassle. Some artificial legs would cause side effects during heavy use but the fine finish of the ‘Aawas live flex’ has enabled users to take maximum use out of it. Once the limb is fixed they are also been given a handbook with necessary guidance. In his comments he added, “I always wanted to contribute to this country because I consider it as my own mother. Therefore I have gone that extra mile to take my product to the next level. Even though I do not have an engineering background I am confident to make these innovations according to my own rules.”
Treatments for animals
In addition to treating patients with lost limbs, Aawas International (Pvt) Ltd. also provides artificial limbs for animals who have lost their legs either by birth or due to man-made accidents. Elephants, cows and deer are often seen at the premises undergoing treatments. Similarly to humans, their height is first being measured and their prosthesis is prepared accordingly. During the process they are properly fed and taken care of.
''When one of his friends lost his leg in the battle field in 2005 Aruna wanted to make him walk properly again. This encouraged him to invent an artificial limb with ankle movements and other special features which was recognised at the Presidential Awards ceremony in 2005 ''
Contributions and donations
The company always welcomes donations and contributions from those who like to lend a hand for those in need. Those who wish to request for a limb could do so by bringing in a letter explaining the condition along with a Gramasevaka certificate. For those who wish to contribute to this organisation, they could do so by contacting the management by letter, fax, telephone or email. Contact details are given below :