Reducing the costs

One of the main reasons prosthesis are so expensive is because each prosthesis has to be customized. That requires people to go into a doctors office and have measurements and scans done in order to make a prosthetic socket, which is the device that connects the prosthesis to the residual limb. If there was a way to simplify the process, that could make a huge financial difference. When we met with Mr. Babwah earlier in the week, he told us how he once made a custom orthotic on the fly by simply stepping in a wax mold to make the shape of the heel of his foot. If we could apply this towards leg and AK prosthesis, we could greatly reduce the expenses. Additionally, this week we began to toy around with the idea of whether we could make a “one size fits all” kind of device, where you would receive the general prosthesis and could adjust it to fit your residual limb. We aren’t sure if it’s possible or not yet, but we want to try to develop this idea more because it would remove a major financial obstacle.

A (slightly) new direction

These past 2 weeks, we discovered that people with AK (above knee) prosthetics have difficulty riding bikes; prosthetic knees don’t bend enough to to support the cycling movement. Not only is biking/cycling one of the best forms of aerobic exercise, many people in LDCs (Less Developed Countries) use bikes. In our AP Human Geography class, we learned that bikes are crucial for economic development. This means that people with knee prosthetics in LDCs cannot bike as well, which prevents that crucial development from happening. Not being able to bike with a knee prosthetic affects much more people than those who just need to exercise, but those who need to bike to increase income (https://medium.com/@TUVIZO/bicycles-can-alleviate-poverty-in-developing-countries-4bebc9282b62). Additionally, as we move forward with identifying physical limitations, we also need to re-adjust our perspective on our project. Our initial goal was to improve the functionality and reduce the expenses of prosthetics to increase exercise availability. However, in doing so, people who wear prosthesis in LDC’s also suffer from this problem, as the majority of people in LDCs work in the primary sector and have laborious jobs. Any restrictions of functionality would have huge negative repercussions on their jobs, and subsequently, their livelihood. Our goal to engineer an affordable and accessible device would not just help people exercise, but could help people with everyday needs as well.