In a year of setbacks, two non-profits have taken a big step forward in making prosthetic care more sustainable in Ecuador. The Range of Motion Project (ROMP) and Operation Namaste of Lake Placid NY have partnered to establish in-country fabrication of prosthetic liners for amputees, using local labor and at a fraction of the cost.
The liners are named “Namaste Liners” and use a method of fabrication called “SILC Solutions” which was developed by Operation Namaste. A prosthetic liner is the soft interface between an amputee and the prosthesis, allowing an amputee to wear a prosthesis comfortably daily without harm and even do activities like climbing mountains (see below). Before Namaste liners, similar liners cost several hundred dollars per patient, Namaste liners cost less than $50 dollars.
Eighteen months ago, Operation Namaste founder Jeff Erenstone started developing this system based on a request from a fellow prosthetist in Nepal, Amit Bajracharya. After a year of testing in Lake Placid and four versions later, Erenstone developed a system that worked well and planned to deploy the product in Nepal in May 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 global pandemic halted those plans. Fortunately, this November, Erenstone connected with ROMP executive director Dave Krupa.
Together, Erenstone and Krupa quickly implemented the liner system in Ecuador, which has reasonable control on COVID-19 due to good public compliance. Within a week, supplies were shipped to Ecuador. “It was scary to fly in a pandemic, but seeing the precaution taken by the people of Ecuador made me feel much better,” said Erenstone.
Namaste liners are made with 3D printed molds that are complex in design and make liner fabrication easier. ROMP’s facility houses a 3D printer so they can sustainably print their own molds. While Erenstone was in Ecuador, he and Krupa fit a patient named Sarah with a liner made in Ecuador (see picture below). Sarah stated that, “This liner is more comfortable than my other (mass market) liner.”
“This is a game changer,” said Krupa. Erenstone agreed, “I have been working in 3D printed prosthetics for years and this is one of the most effective and scalable uses we have found.”