When we originally posted this blog last year, it proved one of our most popular with our readership. So today, on the day the London 2012 Paralympics commences, it seems an opportune time to publish it again. Just as the vast majority of able bodied people will never share a track with Mo Farah or the velodrome with Sir Chris Hoy, so it is with the many amputees worldwide who will not make it to compete at the Paralympics. But many of these people live active, mobile lives thanks to the unordinary thinking of two amazing gentlemen, described below.
Where a problem exists when the status quo solutions are unattainable, unrealistic or simply not right, then that can be the catalyst to drive a different type of solution. Something unordinary.
The Jaipur Foot is an example of this. Named after the city in India where it was designed in 1969, it is a rubber based prosthetic limb for below the knee amputees. It is hard to think of something which meets the needs of its intended audience so effectively.
Made with local materials (primarily wood, rubber and aluminium) it is light, mobile and very hard wearing. Users are able to run, climb and ride bicycles, making it well suited to the lifestyles of the poorer people for whom the Jaipur foot was designed. Time Magazine voted it one of their 50 best inventions in the world. The foot has deliberately never been patented and costs about £20 to produce. And it is not just its cost that makes it compelling-the foot takes just 45 minutes to build and only a couple of hours to fit. The lives of amputees are changed instantly.
And, to date, on the day (31st October 2011) the world’s population ticks over to 7 billion people, the Jaipur foot has been provided to 1.2m people who have lost their leg below the knee-many the victims of landmines. In some of the poorest, war ravaged parts of the planet, every single day people are being provided with the mobility, freedom and self-confidence to which we should all be entitled.
In more developed countries, artificial limbs cost tens of thousands of pounds and are designed, tested, manufactured and marketed by materials engineers, bio mechanists, surgeons, advertising agencies and patent lawyers. They are often fantastic products-but just not viable in terms of cost or design for the bulk of people on earth.
The Jaipur Foot was originally conceived, designed and prototyped as a collaboration of just two people. A surgeon, Dr P K Sethi, with no formal training in orthopaedics, and Ram Chandra, a semi-literate craftsman. All it took was an unworkable existing solution, the resources they had available and the vision, ingenuity and passion of two unordinary people to make a difference. It is an inspiring story for us all.
Posted by Ajai Ranawat
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