Remember the old ad “Special orders don’t upset us”? The three mechanical engineers of MCH’s Limb-and-Brace Department heartily agree. They do special orders. Prostheses and braces are fabricated on site. Walkers and canes are adjusted to fit a person’s measurements. Broken fingers are protected with tailor-made splints. Leather shoes for children with clubfeet and braces for children with rickets are constructed, too. The team works with 30-35 patients each month. Rickets patients are the most common.
As I walked past parents and young children in the waiting area and entered the Limb-and-Brace rooms, I saw that one man was cutting aluminum strips for a child’s leg brace; another was sewing together cute leather shoes for a toddler; another was chipping rubber into a Jaipur foot mold for a below-knee prosthetic limb.
The third man showed me the process he goes through for producing each prosthesis. The “Jaipur foot”, he told me, was developed in Jaipur, India, and costs only US$40 to produce. These prostheses are ideal for Bangladesh. Despite high humidity and uneven paths, they won’t rust or collapse under a person. The men explained that amputees come to Memorial Christian Hospital with stories of accidents, injuries or cancer. After being custom-fitted with a new leg and foot, they practice walking first with walker, then cane, then independently. They quickly regain normal movement capabilities and leave walking tall.