University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011 - $32,700
While approximately 80% of the world’s amputees live in developing nations, only 2% of the people in that segment have access to appropriate prosthetic care and rehabilitation. There are two primary reasons for this: the custom-fit sockets typically provided to amputees are very expensive, costing up to $5,000, and they are not geared toward the agricultural- and labor-oriented contexts of the developing world. Additionally, due to the fact that 90% of the world’s amputees are missing a lower extremity instead of an upper extremity, the majority of prosthetics research has been applied to leg development and not toward arms, thus leaving a gap in upper-extremity devices.
This grant involves three entities in producing an inexpensive prosthetic arm for above-the-elbow amputees in India. The three entities are: 1) a year-long, interdisciplinary, project-based course at UIUC, including international immersion with a team devoted to this topic; 2) Illini Prosthetic Technologies (IPT), a non-profit organization founded by University of Illinois engineering students; and 3) Marketplace Literacy Communities, a non-profit organization in South India. IPT, which grew out of a design course at UIUC, has been working for over three years to develop an affordable and appropriate below-the-elbow prosthetic arm for amputees in Guatemala. This new device will build on this technology, called OpenSocket™, and take IPT in a new direction by exploring above-the-elbow prosthetic arms in a new geographical setting.
In 2007, Stanford University began a multi-year partnership with the government of India to establish the Stanford-India Biodesign (SIB) program (previously funded by NCIIA), the goal of which was to promote medical technology innovation and create novel medical devices for the poor of India. Phase I of SIB was a five-year pilot with the aim of developing one center (in New Delhi) as a “prototype” SIB center. The center has been internationally recognized for its approach to training innovators in the process of creating novel medical technologies for the poor, with three novel medical devices developed and one new company formed. The Government of India is now enthusiastic to commence Phase II, in which additional SIB centers will be developed. However, India can only fund in-India expenses. This grant supports the launch of Phase II, which includes continuing to enable Stanford medical, engineering and business students to pursue clinical immersion within India, creating the “India Biodesign Sourcebook” as an open source resource for medtech innovators, and advising in the creation of two to five new India Biodesign centers within India.
Two NCIIA E-Teams, Greenlight Planet and Socialite, were recently featured in a story in The Economist focused on solar lighting for the poor. Greenlight Planet is selling its solar-charged, battery-powered LED lantern, the Sun King, in China, India and Africa. Cooper Union has been working with rural communities in northern Ghana on a solar lantern project since 2006.