Project Types: Research, Innovation

Themes: Assistive & Accessible Technology, Inclusive Design

Fit-for-purpose, affordable body-powered prostheses

Location: Uganda, Jordan and UK

Upper limb body powered prosthesis consisting of a hand and an arm that has two sections joined by a mechanical elbow. The arm section is made of a dark brow plastic material while the hand is covered by a sleeve that has a much lighter color, this contrast of colors is one of the reasons prosthetics users reject their prostheses.

Prostheses can be used to replace the missing limb, offering both cosmetic and functional benefits. In lower and middle income countries (LMICs), conflict and road traffic accidents mean that demand for upper limb prostheses is high, however provision is sparse, and maintenance is a major challenge. prostheses offer a potentially viable solution. This project brings together an experienced team from across the UK, Uganda and Jordan to understand the needs of prosthetics users in their context and to create a new BP prosthesis that is optimized for adoption by LMIC prosthetic services and acceptable to LMIC users. The project has five working packages (WP) or sub-themes of research. UCL and GDI Hub are leading WP 5: digital tools for evaluation and training.

We have visited Uganda and Jordan to perform scoping studies utilizing public and patient involvement and visited relevant stakeholders (hospitals, clinics, prosthetists, research centres, local NGOs, industry representatives). The results of our scoping studies have been published in the Trent International Prosthetics Symposium (TIPS) 2019 and at the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine magazine SCOPE in December 2018.

The scoping studies have shed light on multidimensional challenges and needs of prosthetics users. Relevant to WP 5: there is not data regarding real life use of prosthetics, prosthetics users do not have a network or a community thus they are not able to help each other and the possibility of improving public policy is minimal because they are not organized to campaign for better prosthetics services and prostheses access. Thus WP 5 has set the following aims:

  1. To work with multiple stakeholders in two different LMIC contexts to develop a context appropriate protocol for capturing the lived experience of prosthetic users, which combines tracking of upper limb prosthetics use and user experience in real life settings.
  2. Develop a protocol to explore the feasibility of enabling prosthetics users to develop a sense of community in Uganda and Jordan, using already existing communication tools, while being context aware.

These protocols have been already developed and ethics committees have approved them in Uganda and Jordan. In the near future, we are also going to test the protocols in the UK. The research protocols include mixed methods that build on human-computer interaction research techniques that are widely used to obtain richer insights into human experience in daily life contexts.