By Lorraine Anyango.
Having sufficient funds to afford a prosthetic limb is a great concern for most people who have lost their limbs.
This is the gap that Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) seeks to fill and offer more affordable limbs through its looming partnership with the North West University from South Africa.
Prosthetic legs, or prostheses, can help people with leg amputation move around more easily. They mimic the function and, sometimes, even the appearance of a real leg. Some people still need a cane, walker, or crutches to walk with a prosthetic leg, while others can walk freely.
This move will be the first of its kind in this region as the cost of customizing a single prosthesis is exorbitant.
Many clients needing prosthetic legs have lost their limbs due to Boda Boda accidents and amputation due to diabetes within the western Kenya region.
A team from northwest University SA had a meeting with the members of the JOOTRH HMT to discuss ways of working together.
The North-West University’s (NWU) Faculty of Engineering is now trying its hand at manufacturing prosthetic limbs so that they can be sold for a fraction of the existing price. The main aim is to assist people for whom a new arm or leg would otherwise remain nothing more than a dream due to a lack of funds.
The team of four from the NWU had among them Ian Thomas, who lost his lower limb when he was 16 years old and is now pursuing his engineering studies at the university. Ian has a prosthetic leg and he is working on manufacturing limbs for others who cannot afford them.
The NWU has an ultramodern and sophisticated 3D printer with a price tag of almost R2,5 million, which they will use to design a prosthetic arm and build a new plastic arm with the 3D printer.
They borrowed a prosthetic arm and imported it from Canada a few months ago. It was examined for three months. It was reverse-engineered by taking it apart, and measuring, drawing, and redesigning all the parts. NWU is still in the process of manufacturing the arm, and it looks like it is going to be a major
SA has strict legislation in place when it comes to the design and manufacturing of prostheses and the final product is examined and approved by an orthopedist and a prosthetist before it can be used.
The School of Mechanical Engineering has applied for funding from a national public entity that stimulates and supports technological innovation. This entity’s role is, among others, to bridge the gap between research and development.
Additional funding will open up the door to the manufacturing of prosthetic limbs and supply them to people who cannot afford the expensive and usually imported prostheses.
In this new partnership, JOOTRH will present the exact need for the regions, after which NWU will apply for funding and source some materials locally for the fabrication of prosthetic legs.