Getting out of bed, taking the bus, or just walking to the store might seem too insignificant a task to many. But, there are thousands who only dream of such independence. Freedom to walk, work and be independent should be a basic human right and that is what the ‘Mukti Project’ aims to give amputees and those affected by polio.
The Mukti Project is organised by a team of students and staff from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde who work jointly with ‘Mukti’, a charitable organisation in Chennai. The project was initiated following a scoping exercise by Anthony McGarry, Kevin Murray and Ms Christine Donald in January 2012.
“The vision behind this project is to expose students to the realities of providing low cost prosthetic and orthotic services. We hope to improve the quality of these services for the benefit of their patients,” says Anthony McGarry. As part of the project, students engage in the treatment of amputees and people with polio in order to return to work. In most cases these patients have been unable to receive treatment due to the difficulty in accessing services. “The students are involved in assessing the requirements of patients and along with the Mukti staff, manufacture low cost prostheses and orthoses. This can involve a great deal of physical work like draping hot plastic and using hammer and chisels to carry out our basic repairs,” Antony adds.
Funding for the trip is raised by student activities and charitable donations. Students are asked to become involved in fundraising activities like running, cycling, dance nights and mountain climbs.
“Mukti for me was a life changing experience. When I was able to see the first hand differences in treatment, the quality of the prostheses and orthoses, compared to what is freely available in the UK, I realised I would like to work in parts of the world that could benefit from my training and expertise,” says Thomas Robertson, a student.
The focus this year was the introduction of a low cost polycentric knee for above-knee amputees. “Four patients were fitted with ‘Free’ knees that bend while walking,” adds Kevin Murray.
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Point of focus - 2016
Introduction of a low cost polycentric knee for above-knee amputees
For the first time, 4 patients were fitted with ‘Free’ flexible knees