Strathclyde medics help Indian amputees

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor

Fundraising is already in full swing for Strathclyde students’ trip to an Indian clinic next year.

Fourth year students from the National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics at the University’s department of biomedical engineering will travel to the Mukti Clinic in Chennai to gain experience and learn the job first-hand.

Students have run marathons, organised ceilidhs, and one has raised more than £1000 after completing the Three Peaks Challenge, climbing the highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales within 24 hours.

Lecturer, Dr Anthony McGarry said that the students will experience a different atmosphere to the NHS when they work in the clinic.

It is thought that the majority of patients will have amputations above or below the knee.

The students will deal with two groups of patients: the first is people with diabetes. With a population of 1.2 million, India has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world and it usually affects people who are sedentary, obese or over 60.

The second group of amputees have been in road accidents- the majority are young men aged between 20 and 30.

Dr McGarry said: “There are wonderful medical services available in India if you have money.

“If you come from a poorer or less well-educated background it is also possible that you can fall through the net: you can have an amputation and no-one gives you a prosthesis.”

The Mukti project was established by the University in 2011 to provide instruction and assist in medical treatment.

Mukti means freedom in Hindi and the charity’s slogan is: “Freedom from crutches.”

Students and alumni raise funds and a group of six students, accompanied by two members of staff, travel to Chennai every year to visit the clinic.

The relationship between the clinic and the university lasts all year, with regular Skype calls to help local staff in Chennai overcome problems as they happen.

The University’s alumni association raised money this year to buy an important piece of machinery which allows Indian staff to create prosthetic feet at the clinic.

They only cost $4 to make and are built from recycled rubber and tyres.

Dr McGarry explained how the staff at Mukti are doing a great job with the limited resources they have and the introduction of the machine has allowed Strathclyde to “establish a level of trust with them.”

Lady Eileen McDonald, university principal Sir Jim McDonald’s wife, is the ambassador of the project and has travelled to India to visit the clinic.

She said: “The work that is carried on at the clinic is nothing short of amazing.”

“The charity provides prostheses and orthoses free of charge and, although priority is given to children and young people, no-one is turned away.

“The positive impact the clinic has on life and the life opportunities of those that benefit from the provision of prosthetic limbs is quite uplifting.”

Visit to donate to the project.}