Better prosthetics for landmine survivors

Better prosthetics for landmine survivors

May 5, 2010

Land mines kill and maim an estimated 26,000 people — many of them civilians — every year around the world, often long after a war in their homeland has ended. Tragically, conventional prosthetic feet for amputees in developing countries not only are expensive, but tend to be stiff and uncomfortable to wear, and break down quickly under harsh conditions.

But a global research team led by Tim Bryant, a Queen’s University mechanical engineer, has developed a new prosthesis with inventor Rob Gabourie and industry partner DuPont Canada that is now being field tested in collaboration with specialists at Universidad Don Bosco in El Salvador.

This novel biomechanical foot is comfortable, flexible enough to use in hilly terrain and adjustable. And its durable plastic cover can be easily custom-shaped to the user’s shoe size locally. Best of all, the new prosthesis costs a fraction of its typical counterpart — good news for hundreds of thousands of amputees in war-torn countries like Cambodia and Afghanistan.