A woman from Uganda has been given both a mechanical and prosthetic arm
designed and produced by a team of Salford Prosthetics and Orthotics students.
A fund was set up by ‘Salford knowledge 4 change’ to send a team of students over to
Uganda to help Ninsiima, a peasant farm worker, who was brutally attacked by her husband
with a machete last year. Ninsiima lost both her hands, one of her ears and her eye as
she tried to protect her face.
For four weeks a team of six students travelled to Ninsiima’s small town of Fort
Portal, Uganda, to do the prosthesis of her limbs. However, due to lack of specialist
equipment, manufacturing had to be done back in the UK. The measurements were
then sent to a specialised team based in Salford where they were then able to manufacture
the prosthetic arms.
During their first week in Uganda Salford students took measurements of Nisiima’s limbs and conducted muscle strength tests (as she was going to have one prosthetic and one mechanical arm). Skin tone tests were also conducted along with creating casts to send back to the UK where colleagues would work on the manufacturing of the arms.
The team based at the University of Salford had the most difficult job as they had to rely on
the measurements alone. Their job was to fill and rectify the casts along with fitting a cable
of correct length on the mechanical arm to allow Ninsiiima to pinch between her finger and
Rebecca McDonnell was one of the students who was part of the manufacturing team. “It
was really difficult to get the glove to match her skin tone as all we had to go off was a picture and it was hard to see how petite she was. The actual length of the arm is a big thing as we didn’t want them to be out of proportion to her body size.”
“The casts got damaged when they came over and a lot of the markings labelled to tell us
which was the left arm and which was the right had come off, so we had to do a little more
work to determine which was which.”
The arms were sent back to Uganda where Salford students Lucy Stephens and Laura
Pemberton were able to fit them to Ninsiima.
“We trained her in how to use them, she wanted to use the arms to feed her chickens so we showed her with the cosmetic prototype how to bend the fingers, she even took a selfie with her hand.
“The whole time after the fitting she was just laughing and smiling, I kept catching her
looking at her new hands and smiling, it was so touching.”
All photos are courtesy of Becky Stephens.