JAFFNA: What Jaipur stands for might be unknown to people in the peninsula. But, “Jaipur foot” is a household name as thousands of war victims have benefited from it.
More than 1,000 disabled persons in and around Jaffna district will be fitted with Jaipur feet and limbs by a 20-member team from India, during this month.The Jaipur foot is a prosthetic leg for people with knee amputations. It was developed by Dr. P.K. Sethi at the SMS Medical College Hospital, Jaipur – the capital of Rajasthan - in 1968.
|Jaffna Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation
The camp in the peninsula, organised by the Ministry of External Affairs of the Indian Government, is conducted by an NGO from Jaipur called Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) in the District Hospital at Kondaveli here.
The team includes a doctor, an administrator and 18 technicians. “We will be able to fit limbs to 40 or 50 patients a day,” said administrator K.C. Sharma.
“We have brought all the materials needed from India,” he said.The Indian Government has provided about 6.4 million (Indian) rupees for this project, said the administrator. “In March 2010, we did 1,210 limb fixations in Sri Lanka. Many people treated were victims of landmines and shells,” he said.
The programme scheduled to start on September 1 was postponed to September 3 due to the delay in the arrival of the shipment.
Explaining that it is easy to manufacture Jaipur limbs in hours, team leader Dr. A.B. Sharma said, “We’ll be able to fit the limb and give the basic training in a day. We’ll start at 9 a.m. and will go on till we fix the foot to the last patient of the day,” he said.
He said it might take two days in some cases, but the patient will be provided free food and accommodation during the time.
The artificial limb consists of the foot piece and the socket, with or without joint, based on the type (lower or upper) limb needed.
The heavy aluminium sockets that were used have been replaced by High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). The Jaipur knee, an advanced form that “mimics natural joint’s movements” developed by the Stanford University engineering students, was among the best innovations in the world in 2009 listed in Time magazine.
In Jaffna’s Jaipur Centre for Disability Rehabilitation (JJCDR), more than half of the artificial limb manufacturers, who have been working with the organisation for at least 10 years, are disabled.
Dr. Jayadevi Ganeshamoorthy said JJCDR was set up 24 years ago with the assistance of Dr. J.D. Hutchison from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD). The organisation has also been providing credit loans and student educational grants for the handicapped in the peninsula since then.
|K.C. Sharma (Administrator) and
Dr. A.B. Sharma (right)
JJCDR has four centres - prosthetic, orthotic, mobility and physiotherapy. It provides mobility devices such as walkers with alarms for the blind, wheel chairs, arm crutches, elbow crutches and walking aids.
“Earlier, we used aluminium to prepare Jaipur foot. But, now we use polypropylene, which is light and looks good,” she said.
V. Niluka, who lost her lower limb in a landmine in 2008, got a Jaipur foot last year. Now, she cycles to office. She said it is comfortable and easy to maintain the Jaipur foot.
Prosthetic and Orthotic Centre Manager N.M. Johnson, who uses a Jaipur foot, has been working with the institution from its launch.
He said he was sent for training to the Colombo Friend-in-Need Society in 1986. “Transporting a person who lost his limb from Jaffna to Colombo was difficult because there were a lot of security checks, especially for the disabled,” he said, elaborating that the setting up of the Jaffna centre was essential during the period.
Mr. Johnson has also received training in polypropylene technology, from ICRC centres in Addis Ababa and Vietnam, to make Jaipur foot.
Explaining the process of manufacturing Jaipur foot, he said the measurements of the limb needed are taken using plaster of paris (POP) and a model is prepared using the same. A polypropylene sheet is put in an oven and when it is in the semi-molten condition, it is moulded around the POP to get the shape. After fine adjustments, the foot and the socket are fixed together and the final product is fitted to the amputee.
JJCDR chairperson Dr. Ganeshamoorthy said, “It takes about a week for measurement, fitting and training. After fitting the limb, people are given physiotherapy. We provide free stay and food during the period.”
While lower limbs are manufactured in the centre, upper limbs have to be brought from India, which will take up to three months to reach them, according to her.
She said that the International Medical Association and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provide financial assistance for people who can’t afford to pay for the limbs. ICRC provides the major financial assistance to the centre, she added. “Finance is our main challenge. When ICRC leaves, it is going to be difficult for us,” said the doctor, explaining that the fund from ICRC is already tapering as the Government has asked all the NGOs to leave the country. “We’ve to find sources now,” she said.
As of now, the centre is aided by people from the locality and abroad, and the Government Social Services Department. The centre has 30 members and outreach officers as well to identify handicapped people and refer them to the centre. Orthopaedic surgeons visit the centre once a month to monitor the activities, she said.
“We don’t conduct camps,” she said explaining that the quality of the artificial limbs might be affected if they are manufactured in a short time. “Some agencies come here to conduct camps and fit the limbs in one or two days. I don’t know how good they (the artificial limbs) are.”
Recently, the mobility centre manufactured an electric tricycle which has a 36-volt motor and it can run for 60 kilometres when charged fully, said B. Mahendrakumar, the manager of the centre.