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URI College of Engineering develops prosthetic hands for amputees in Colombia

URI College of Engineering develops prosthetic hands for amputees in Colombia

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By: Tim Studebaker

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WEST KINGSTON, R.I. - After years of internal conflict, combined with the number of land mines left behind, the South American nation of Colombia has the highest rate of amputees in the world.  URI's College of Engineering saw an opportunity to help out.

With the help of a $25,000 grant, engineering and biomedical students at URI will be designing and building prosthetic hands for four people who need them in Colombia. They'll use 3D printers to make the hands.

Kunal Mankodiya, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering is heading up the project, “I always have a drive to help people with disabilities or health issues.

The youngest prosthetic recipient is just 14 years old.

Mankodiya says, “That particular kid has interest in music, and he comes from a poor family.  He was even feeling stigma of having an amputated limb.”

It's part of a partnership with a university in Colombia whose students will also work on the project.  They see it as a way to put URI on the world stage, as well as create opportunities for student and faculty exchange in the future.

Nicholas Constant, a graduate student at URI, says, “It's not a single discipline.  It's very multi–disciplinary.  It pretty much takes an entire team to create such a project.  I've always wanted to use technology to help assist others with their daily lives, improving their daily lives.”

In August, some of the students and faculty involved in the project will travel to Colombia, live with families there, and work with the patients to finalize the prosthetics.

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