Walter Sisulu students invent affordable prosthetic leg

MEDICAL MILESTONE: Walter Sisulu University students Zanodumo Godlimpi and Siphosethu Mgwili
MEDICAL MILESTONE: Walter Sisulu University students Zanodumo Godlimpi and Siphosethu Mgwili
Image: Supplied

Two students from Walter Sisulu University have invented a groundbreaking prosthetic leg which will give financial and physical relief to the more than three million below-knee amputation casualties annually.

Final-year medical orthotics and prosthetic students Zanodumo Godlimpi and Siphosethu Mgwili’s invention is expected to save children and adolescent amputees thousands of rand in upgrades as they go through physical changes over time.

Mgwili’s innovation will allow amputees the ability to adjust their own height in their homes to a comfortable and functional height.

Godlimpi has developed a pneumatic-actuated, below-knee prosthesis that uses pressurised air and a pneumatic cylinder that can plantar-flex and dorsi-flex to achieve a range of motion of 360 degrees.

Mgwili said prostheses are expensive, which means they are scarce in most developing and underdeveloped countries.

“The main interest and purpose behind this study was to help prosthetic users and suppliers by decreasing the cost of the prostheses, making them more functional, affordable and available to people,” Mgwili said.

“We wanted to decrease the number of prostheses one has to use, especially for those amputated at childhood.”

Higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande said it was pleasing to note the increase in research and innovation output from a historically disadvantaged institution such as WSU, which for decades had been systematically left out of the research and scientific ecosystem of our country and the world.

Nzimande has committed to ensure an increase in the number of these institutions who partner with foreign universities and colleges to learn and share best practices, particularly with those lead institutions which are renowned globally for their scientific and innovation advancements.

He said it was undisputed that innovation was the keyword of “our times in response to modern-day challenges facing our society, be it socially, environmentally or economically.”