Wheel­chair toi­let brings dig­nity

Vuk'uzenzele - - Front Page - Dale Hes

In 2011, Por­tia Mavhungu (30) spent seven months in a wheel­chair af­ter break­ing her pelvis. For the first time in her life, her eyes were opened to the dif­fi­cul­ties that dis­abled peo­ple face, es­pe­cially when go­ing to the bath­room.

“I suf­fered the pain and hu­mil­i­a­tion of need­ing help to go to the bath­room and be­came de­pressed. I kept won­der­ing about peo­ple who are in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion,” said Mavhungu.

This prompted Mavhungu who orig­i­nates from Gaut­eng to de­sign an in­no­va­tive seat­ing de­vice that al­lows wheel­chair-bound peo­ple to go to the bath­room in­de­pen­dently.

Mavhungu and her part­ner, Darushna Chel­lan, set about de­vel­op­ing the de­vice and even­tu­ally pro­duced a pioneer­ing in­ven­tion that is now at­tract­ing at­ten­tion from around the world. Called the Para Tube, the de­vice fits onto any wheel­chair and con­sists of seat­ing, dis­pos­able bags and sani­tis­ers.

“When the per­son needs to use the bath­room, they pull the cen­tre part of the seat for­ward with a han­dle, and the mid­dle seat flips up, in the shape of a toi­let. There is a bio-degrad­able bag in the open­ing, which al­lows the user to go to the bath­room with­out any help. The bag can then be dis­posed of, sim­i­lar to a nappy,” Mavhungu ex­plained.

In 2015, the Jo­han­nes­burg in­ven­tors re­ceived fund­ing from a pub­lic en­tity, the Tech­nol­ogy In­no­va­tion Agency (TIA), which al­lowed them to fur­ther de­velop the prod­uct un­der their newly-formed com­pany, PRD Log­i­cal So­lu­tions.

In 2017, they were named as finalists in the med­i­cal cat­e­gory of the Gaut­eng Ac­cel­er­a­tor Pro­gramme, which is hosted by the In­no­va­tion Hub, an agency of the Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment. They went on to win the award, beat­ing 500 com­peti­tors to the ti­tle and win­ning R500 000 in fund­ing, along with in­cu­ba­tion and men­tor­ing ser­vices.

“We have re­ceived im­mense busi­ness sup­port from the In­no­va­tion Hub and the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment,” she said.

Mavhungu was re­cently se­lected to take part in a busi­ness de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme spon­sored by the Swiss South African Joint Re­search Pro­gram. This saw her trav­el­ling to Switzer­land to present her ideas.

PRD is also in the process of ac­quir­ing fund­ing from the In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, in or­der to com­mer­cialise their prod­uct. They want to work with hos­pi­tals, re­tail­ers and med­i­cal aid com­pa­nies to bring the Para Tube to peo­ple who need it.

“We have re­ceived im­mense busi­ness sup­port from the In­no­va­tion

Hub and the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment.”

Por­tia Mavhungu with a wheel­chair fit­ted with a Para Tube.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.