Prosthetic limbs made with technology developed at Strathclyde University are to become more available through a $1m grant from Google.org.
ProPortion, a Netherlands-based social enterprise, has received the funding for its LegBank venture that provides limbs to amputees on low incomes.
The limbs use Majicast, a hands-free device used for manufacturing lower limb prosthetic sockets that has been developed by researchers in Strathclyde’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and engineers with design company Reggs.
The Google.org funding will enable production by LegBank, and its distribution to developing countries, to be expanded. It is initially focusing on Colombia, which has one of the highest number of landmine victims worldwide. The venture could be adapted for use in other countries alongside its pilot programme in Colombia.
Dr Arjan Buis, a Senior Research Fellow in Strathclyde’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, said: “We are delighted that proportion has received this funding from Google.org. It will make a significant contribution to Legbank’s work in delivering high quality prostheses to people who need them – but often have great difficulty getting access to them.
“In partnership with ProPortion and LegBank, we are addressing a major and long-standing problem in a sustainable manner, with the aim of the project becoming a well-organised, impactful international venture.”
The socket in the Majicast is the component that connects prostheses securely to patients’ residual limbs. It is unique to each person and crucial for pain-free walking. According to Strathclyde, sockets produced with this device can increase user comfort and stability and make the devices fit better, resulting in enhanced quality of life. In addition, the total time and costs for socket production decrease by an estimated 75 per cent.
The Google Impact Challenge committed $20m in Google.org grants behind not-for-profit companies using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities.
ProPortion will use the Google.org grant to boost LegBank’s efforts in the development of the Majicast. This will involve the validation of the device in the Netherlands and Colombia.
LegBank is seeking new investors in its project, the details of which are at this address: http://www.proportionfoundation.org/legbank