Project

Democratizing prosthetic and diabetic care: A resilient model for healthcare delivery

Taken by Research Specialist Francesca Riccio-Ackerman in Nogales, Mexico.

In the Biomechatronics group, we imagine a world where assistive technologies help people realize their physical potential and maximize their control, comfort, and mobility.

Every thirty seconds, another patient somewhere in the world loses a limb. However, not all amputees experience the same outcomes after surgery.

Social, economic, and geographical factors prevent patients from getting regular medical check-ups, managing their diabetes, and accessing limb-salvaging interventions —for diabetic patients who consistently struggle to control their blood glucose, their risk of amputation skyrockets by up to 30 times higher.

These same challenges prevent amputees from reaching prosthetic clinics, obtaining, and maintaining functional prosthetic devices that can maximize their abilities.

For example, in Mexico, more than 85% of amputees lost limbs due to diabetes— a number that continues to climb. Yet only 3% of amputees have access to functional prosthetic devices.

Through this project, we are developing resilient healthcare models for diabetic management and prosthetic services that can be scaled both domestically and interna… View full description

In the Biomechatronics group, we imagine a world where assistive technologies help people realize their physical potential and maximize their control, comfort, and mobility.

Every thirty seconds, another patient somewhere in the world loses a limb. However, not all amputees experience the same outcomes after surgery.

Social, economic, and geographical factors prevent patients from getting regular medical check-ups, managing their diabetes, and accessing limb-salvaging interventions —for diabetic patients who consistently struggle to control their blood glucose, their risk of amputation skyrockets by up to 30 times higher.

These same challenges prevent amputees from reaching prosthetic clinics, obtaining, and maintaining functional prosthetic devices that can maximize their abilities.

For example, in Mexico, more than 85% of amputees lost limbs due to diabetes— a number that continues to climb. Yet only 3% of amputees have access to functional prosthetic devices.

Through this project, we are developing resilient healthcare models for diabetic management and prosthetic services that can be scaled both domestically and internationally.

Our plan includes designing the world’s first mobile prosthetic clinic, translating our prosthetic socket design tools out of the lab and into communities most in need, and constructing a heat map that identifies areas with the highest need based on socioeconomic and epidemiological data.

We have identified a pilot community and secured the support of field experts at Arsobo Clinic in Nogales, Mexico.

Additionally, we are proud to collaborate with Dr. Joel Huegel,  leader of the Biomechatronics Research laboratory and tenured Professor of mechanical engineering at Tecnologico de Monterrey in Guadalajara, Mexico who specializes in low-cost, highly functional lower limb prostheses to meet worldwide need. 

Locally, our team is growing with the exciting addition of Dr. Nancy Oriol, MD,  Faculty Associate Dean for Community Engagement in Medical Education and Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  

Our project's supporting research team includes MIT undergraduates: Carl "Andrew" Seelhoff and Aashini Shah on mobile clinic design, Emily Niu and Liam Ackerman on software and applied epidemiology, Hanna Kherzai, Ayse Guvenilir, and Kaili Glasser on health outcomes and economics.