An astonishing statistic that is rarely discussed is the fact that in Mexico, 4% of individuals who are wheelchair-bound pass away every year due to the development of pressure injuries and ulcers. The incredible Clyde Ramkissoon has made it his mission to solve this problem. What sets him apart from others is his drive to tackle the issue while studying in a busy year. He is attending an access course so that he will be able to continue his studies at university.
He has come up with an innovative solution, which he calls "pressure mapping" chairs. He designed the chairs using only a few pieces of wood, foam, and 500 ordinary household nails. The materials he used are affordable and easily accessible in developing countries. Clyde, who has spent his adult life performing humanitarian work for the disabled, believes that he has discovered an inexpensive device that will decrease unnecessary deaths worldwide and relieve the suffering of many individuals. It is a brilliantly simple idea. The nails are spaced one centimeter apart, with their heads facing upwards. The nails are not fixed in place; they can move up and down. "If someone has a hip problem that causes them to sit more on one side than the other, pressure points will be left on the nails, highlighting precisely how much pressure is being applied and where." A cushion can then be made to address and correct the issues that are causing imbalances.
Clyde came up with the idea for the chair as part of his coursework for the access course that he is attending at Hammersmith & West London College. He will begin a BSc program in prosthetics and orthotics at Salford University in October.
Last September, he went to Mexico, where he heard the shocking statistic mentioned above. "Pressure sores and ulcers are a big problem for people who use wheelchairs, particularly in developing countries," he explained. "It can take as little as five hours of sitting to generate a pressure sore. This issue is exacerbated by climate and a lack of resources in less well-off countries."
He presented his concept to the spinal injury department at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Edgware, and the doctors there were very impressed. He collaborated with them and biomedical engineers from the hospital.
"An accurate pressure-mapping device in developed countries costs roughly £15,000. The version we’ve created, on the other hand, only costs about £50 and is equally as accurate."
Now, he is seeking to raise a little cash. He wants to launch his product for field tests in Mexico in August. There, he will get input from patients and technicians.
"All I need is a fare to get me there," he stated.
Clyde, who was born in Trinidad, began his career working alongside his sibling, a Roman Catholic priest named Fr. Gregory Ramkissoon. He oversees Mustard Seed Communities in Kingston, Jamaica, which provides aid for physically and mentally challenged adults and children.
After that, he worked for the French humanitarian group Handicap International in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Once his chair becomes widely used, Clyde’s hope is to create a wheelchair that can handle the uneven terrain and steep slopes of places like Nepal. It should be able to construct using materials that are easily accessible in developing countries, such as bike parts and pieces of wood.