The Sierra Leone Orthotics & Prosthetics Program

Adikalie Kamara

We've designed a health system strengthening model  to support and expand the prosthetic and orthotic sector that cares for people with disabilities.

Partnering with the Ministry of Health, local clinics and disabled communities, our goal is to improve capacity, multiply production of prosthetic and orthotic devices, and deliver care to patients in hard to reach areas across the Republic of Sierra Leone in our first four years.

Due to a civil war ending in 2001, many Sierra Leoneans were injured or became disabled from violence, displacement and inability to access safe and healthy living environments. Immediately after the conflict, Sierra Leone received an influx of international support to rehabilitate and care for people needing prosthetic and orthotic devices. However, as time progressed, many short-term aid and relief efforts shifted their focus to emergencies elsewhere, and the dearth of orthotic and prosthetic service capabilities grew.

In the present day, the orthotic and prosthetic sector in Sierra Leone is equipped with just one fully-trained clinician, an unpredictable flow of supplies,  and with clinics lacking adequate power and tools. Sierra Leone is home to over fifty-thousand persons with disabilities who need medical orthotic braces and prosthetic limbs, but care is severely limited.

Enabled by the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics, our team  has taken on the challenge of using problem-solving, design thinking, global health knowledge and engineering to work together with partners from the Ministry of Health and from communities of disabled Sierra Leoneans to strengthen this sector. Our goal is to catalyze change in the prosthetic and orthotic sector to permanently improve prosthetic and orthotic care for persons with disabilities across Sierra Leone.

Our efforts span six major categories: data collection and quality improvement, inclusive education and training, supply chain and logistics, investment in infrastructure, translation of new technologies, and mobile delivery of services.

Core Team

Dr. Hugh Herr, Principal Investigator of the Biomechatronics GroupFrancesca Riccio-Ackerman, Graduate Student Lead, Researcher at Biomechatronics Group and Global Health System Designer; Dara Dotz, Humanitarian Designer and Low-Resource Fabrication Expert; Lindsey Charles, Biomechatronics Project Administrator; Leila Abdelrahman; Software Engineer; Adikalie Kamara, Researcher and Community Liason

Collaborators in Sierra Leone

Dr. Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation; Dr. David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer and Minister of Primary Education (Biomechatronics and MIT Graduate); Dr. Santigie Sesay, Director of Non-Communicable Diseases; Dr. Ismaila Kebbie, Director of Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy;  Abdulrahman Dumbaya, Head Prosthetist at the National Rehabilitation Center

Collaborators at MIT & Harvard

Dr. Amos Winter, Principal Investigator of the MIT GEAR Lab, and Low-Cost Prosthetic Design Expert; Dr. Nancy Oriol, Associate Dean of Harvard Medical School and Advisor on Mobile Health Delivery; Guillermo Herrera-Arcos, Researcher at Biomechatronics Group and Expert on Orthotic Design and Fabrication; Christina Meyer, Researcher at Biomechatronics Group and Designer of Assistive Technologies; Urvaksh Danesh Irani, Researcher at MIT GEAR Lab and Low-Cost Prosthesis Designer;  Kaili Glasser, Biomechatronics Group Undergraduate Researcher

Collaborating Organizations

Partners in Health, Global Health Organization; the Human Study School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Education Organization for Prosthetist-Orthotists