LIMBS International Partnership
In March 2011, the Center for Health, Care, and Well-being and the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences (former Department of Physical Therapy) invited Roger Gonzalez from LIMBS International to speak to ENHP students and the University community. Gonzalez, president and founder of LIMBS, provided an overview of the non-profit organization and spoke about how it responds to amputees in developing countries who do not have the resources for prosthetic devices and clinical rehabilitation.
In May 2012, a formal agreement with LIMBS was celebrated on ENHP Day. Several initiatives are articulated in the agreement:
- Engineering Research, Development and Outcomes of the LI Prosthetic Foot.
- Physical Therapy Education and Training.
- Prosthetics Education and Training.
The agreement allows the University and LIMBS to enter into any other initiative including any additional research initiative under a separate work statement.
LIMBS International designs low-cost prosthetics created from regionally available materials so that local clinics are not dependent on outside sources to care for amputees. In addition, clinicians living in the local communities are trained in the construction and implementation of these devices. Research continues to enhance prosthetic design to meet the needs of amputees in these developing communities. This organizational model is sustainable and unique in its focus on research and training. Training centers currently exist in Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, and Senegal.
Faculty and students became engaged in the work of LIMBS when LIMBS International recognized the need for the development of education materials related to the rehabilitation process of above-knee prosthetic training. A research team at the University of Hartford has been developing these materials for use in the local clinics. The general topics of instruction include skin care, exercise, balance activities, walking with various aides over different terrains and patient assessment. The education materials consist of a clinician manual, posters for the clinic and take-home pamphlets for patients. The manual for clinicians is lengthy and will be translated to the local language. The clinic posters and take-home pamphlets, however, will be virtually wordless and universal; as each of the clinics serves various cultural communities and many of the patients are illiterate. The Physical Therapy Department has collaborated with the Visual Communication Design Department at the University of Hartford to create culturally sensitive education materials. The second phase of the project is to evaluate the educational materials and assess their effectiveness, both from the clinician and patient perspective.