The idea of developing uHandle was first proposed by NGO JAL. JAL is currently directed by Dr. Monteserrat Perez, dermatologist and Leprosy specialist for over 15 years, working through international cooperation projects in different health, education and assistance to leprosy patients, which are the most disadvantaged and living in extreme poverty in the province of Tamil Nadu, south east of India.
The team spent over a week working in Cheshire House, located in Vellore. This is a leprosary that permanently hosts about 54 people of both genders, most of whom suffer large mutilations as a consequence of the disease. Additionally, in the premises there is a dispensary and a small primary care center that serves about 1,500 people each year with different pathologies that do not have resources to go to the hospital.
The different uHandle designs were tested with the patients, assessing how convenient the adapter was for each one of the residents. The straps were adjusted to different hand types and sizes, as well as different pathologies. The patients were able to eat by themselves, as well as drawing, painting and writing.
Overall, the trip was insightful and productive. The residents gave us a lot of feedback, as well as suggestions for improvements. Back in Spain, we will work hard to apply the changes needed and develop the best product possible for them!