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23rd March 2015

Smarter, sexier more comfortable prosthetic limbs

From an early age, David Sengeh knew more about prosthetic limbs than he would have wanted.

Raised in Sierra Leone during a brutal civil war, he saw loved ones lose arms and legs during vicious assaults. 8,000 men, women and children lost limbs during the war but many amputees would not wear their prosthetics. He wanted to know why.

David learned that traditional manufacturing methods were creating prosthetic sockets which were deeply uncomfortable. Amputees were suffering from pressure sores and blisters due to ill-fitting prosthetics. ‘It does not matter how powerful your prosthetic ankle is, if your prosthetic socket is uncomfortable you will not use your leg – and that is just simply unacceptable in our age.’

David embarked on a PhD at MIT Media Lab where he designed a more comfortable prosthetic socket drawing on the latest in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer modelling, and 3D-printing.

The result is a quick and cheap method for designing and producing prosthetic limbs which are tailored to individuals.

In the words of a patient who took part in a trial of the product: ‘It’s so soft it’s like walking on pillows. And it’s f-ing sexy’

Watch David’s inspiring TED talk.

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