While upper limb loss/absence is relatively unusual in the UK, in other parts of the world, for example in areas of conflict, or where road safety is poor, it is much more common. The prosthetics available in these regions are often costly and are usually fitted and maintained by a relatively small specialist workforce in hospitals or clinics, places which many find difficult to access. The consequences of living with limb loss but without a suitable prosthetic device can be severe, particularly for people in low resource settings. For example, they may no longer be able to work and certain modes of travel may no longer be possible.
To address these issues, Fit-for-purpose, affordable body-powered prostheses is designing upper limb prostheses that are both low cost and fit for their purpose and circumstance. The project is funded through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Global Challenges Research Fund.
fit 4 purpose's objectives are to
Investigate user needs
Cultural constraints, clinical and manufacturing resources in Uganda and Jordan.
Develop a specification for a body-powered prosthesis
Optimised for Low to Middle Income Countries, by exploring the influence of key functional properties on functionality, usability & real-world use.
Design, manufacture and test a new device that restores a high level of functionality
Is culturally acceptable, and is well suited to LMIC prescription, manufacture and fitting.
Explore highly novel approaches
To realising a step change in body-powered prosthesis performance.
Develop a digital toolbox
For evaluating the impact of prosthetic provision on amputees’ lives, and thus evaluate the impact of the new prosthesis in Jordan and Uganda.
Develop an implementation toolkit
Including training resources and a platform for knowledge exchange on prescription, manufacture, fitting and clinical support.
The video here reports on work carried out in Uganda by students studying prosthetics and orthotics at the University of Salford. The study was completed just before the start of this research project and illustrates some of the immense challenges faced by people who live with limb loss in Uganda.