FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan, July 15, 2011 -- Advances in prosthetics have greatly reduced the debilitating effects of losing a limb for people in the developed world, but in Afghanistan, a country with one of the highest amputation rates, sustainable technology like this is rare.
Combined Task Force Spartan Soldiers developed a simple and easily reproduced prototype prosthetic leg for victims of improvised explosive devices and land mines near Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan.
“We came up with a way to make prosthetic limbs from local resources and in a way that was easily reproduced,” said Dr. (Maj.) Brian Egloff, brigade surgeon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Egloff said he could have contacted a charity in the U.S. to get high-quality prosthetic limbs for a handful of victims near FOB Pasab, but it would have been a temporary solution. He needed to find an enduring design for the prosthetic leg.
The prototype consists of a simple cast attached to a sturdy metal rod with a flat hook. The cast can be fitted in as little as one day and recast to accommodate the growth of an individual. The metal rod and flat hooked foot are easily reproduced and allow a patient to walk more naturally.
An 8-year-old child who lost both legs after stepping on a land mine received the first prototype leg June 26, 2011.
“This patient and people like him have no mobility whatsoever; his father was carrying him around on his back,” Egloff said. “It’s all about increasing mobility and allowing them to live a more productive lives.”
Putting a face to the project seemed to strengthen the resolve of the individual working on the prosthetic leg.
“It helped knowing that the leg was for a small 8-year-old boy who was happy all the time -- despite his situation,” said Warrant Officer Brian Terry, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, who constructed the prototype.
Terry said the next step is for the Afghan doctors in this region to make their own prosthetics and to train them how to instruct victims on the use of the leg.