Designing a low cost upper limb prosthesis for people living with upper limb disabilities in low and middle income countries using locally available materials
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The human hand is considered to be a very powerful tool for operating in any environment, and a very important means for physical and social interaction. It allows people to accomplish sophisticated movements, like abduction, flexion, extension and this is all thanks to its large number of degree of freedom (21 DoFs for the hand and 6 for the wrist) and the ability of the thumb to carry out the opposition movement (Cordella, Ciancio et al. 2016) but with an increasing number of traumatic injuries most especially in low and middle-income countries like Uganda, most of the victims are losing a section or the whole hand in such incidences. Hence leading to a growing number of people living with upper limb disabilities. Upper limb disability is the partial or full loss of function in the elbow, shoulder and wrist joints that limits physiological, socio environmental and physical wellbeing of the victims (Shiratuddin, Rai et al. 2017). Upper limb disabilities are part and parcel of the outcomes of traumatic injuries either through road accidents, factory accidents or war related traumatic incidences and have resulted to a big percentage of admissions in several hospitals in Uganda. Developed countries have spearheaded the proper handling of these cases unlike developing countries, where these cases are not properly treated and thus individuals suffer repercussions associated with limb loss. The team reviewed current solutions to upper limb disability globally, in Africa and Uganda and reasons as to why their use in developing countries is at a minimal scale. Disabilities brought about by traumatic incidences like road accidents or work-related accidents have majorly led to amputations in most developing countries and very few victims are exposed to designs that can help replace the lost function or part of the body. According to research carried out, one of the biggest challenges that patients living with upper limb disability face in Uganda is a lack of prosthetics that mimic the normal function of the lost limb; hence they are incapable of carrying out their daily tasks. Another challenge is that current prosthetics are quite expensive, this is due to the fact that most hand components are imported. Hence a common Ugandan man or woman will find it hard to purchase the prosthesis since its expensive. As a team we decided to bring into play different current technologies in order to come up with a simple functional hand prosthetic, manufactured in Uganda using readily available local materials and one that is low cost and accessible to a local person in Uganda.