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In El Paso, Limbs Intl innovates prosthetic devices

By Sara Inés Calderón
Más Wired

Limbs International has been innovating the way that amputees can be mobile since 2004. Originally just a program for students of Limbs’ President Dr. Roger Gonzalez to work on a prosthetic knee, the program has since expanded to include feet and arms, as well as serving more countries. According to Limbs’ website:

In early 2011, LIMBS became an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization and acquired the intellectual property and patent application related to the M1 Knee from Letourneau University. This change in organization was made in order to accommodate the need for dedicated full-time staff needed to handle the growing demand for the LIMBS Relief Knee around the world, an endeavor which could not be handled solely by University resources and student projects.

Limbs Intl has a partnership with the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) since 2012, which is one of the top institutions in the country for Latino engineers. Those students work with the organization in the university’s Biomedical Engineering and Bioinformatics Annex to create new solutions for amputees, specifically for prosthetic feet, but also prosthetic arms.

Thus far, Limbs International has served at least 1,000 amputees in 22 countries, probably more, Gonzalez told Más Wired. And, since the project collaborated with UTEP, most of the students working on these projects are Latinos. Gonzalez told us that, for his students, working with Limbs International

is a life-changing experience.

“Working on an applied engineering project with real world constraints is invaluable experiences,” he said. “They also learn allot about the developing world, the plight of the poorest of the poor.”

The organization estimates that, “between 3 million and 11 million amputees worldwide are in need of a prostheses — with approximately 80% of those living in low-income countries. These individuals are usually forced to exist as dependents with little hope of a productive role in their society.”

In the future Gonzalez said that Limbs Intl would like to expand product offerings, as well as the number of countries served, working in new places of the world.

“[For example], Turkey with Syrian refugees who have lost a limb in the Syrian war and Eastern Europe. We are working hard to expand our efforts in Mexico. We believe many good things are ahead with our educational efforts with ‘Learning for Limbs,’ our expanding rehabilitation efforts, and community outreach involvement with those who live alongside these amputees,” he said.

Limbs International is mostly funded through donations, so if you or someone you know is interested in fostering this organization that helps Latino engineers while helping amputees, please click here.

To learn more about this organization, visit their FAQ or knee design pages.

Featured Photo: Before Dominga’s amputation, she recalls, “It was horrific pain. I wanted to die since I couldn’t find anything to calm it down.” Now that she has been fitted with the LIMBS Knee, she is able to care for her children and is looking forward to finding a job.

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