The Jaipur Foot Organization is the world’s largest provider of prosthetics. Their inexpensive prosthetics limbs serve hundreds of thousands of people, and their rural fitment camps help reach amputees with the worst access to care. In remote settings Jaipur Foot uses plaster casts to fit their patients with prosthetics limbs. The first step in the process is to make a properly fitting socket around an amputee’s residual limb. This fit is critical to user comfort and minimizes complications like pressure sores.
In urban clinics Jaipur Foot sometimes uses two-step vacuum casting to make a socket. First, vacuum casting is used to lock a deformable material into the shape of a negative mold around a patient’s residual limb. Then, it is used to create a positive mold for a heat-formed plastic socket. As part of a student project in MIT’s D-Lab, I designed a portable, hand powered vacuum pump to be used as a replacement for the large, expensive, electric-powered vacuum pump in use at urban clinics. The goal of the project was to make vacuum casting affordable and accessible when electricity is not available, thereby allowing the process to replace slow and heavy plaster casts that were the only option in traveling rural fitment camps. The pictures show multiple iterations of the design and my team members getting hands on experience with Jaipur Foot employees and patients.