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June 19, 2018 Shaelee Huck

ReMotion in South Africa: How increasing affordable options for prosthetists will expand access to mobility

D-Rev’s mobility team completed research on the need for affordable assistive technologies in South Africa by learning from the professionals who provide rehabilitative care in the country. A big thanks to IDEO.org and the Department for International Development (DFID) who have supported our efforts in South Africa via the Amplify Disability and Inclusion Challenge.

South Africa, with its proud moniker “The Rainbow Nation,” is a country rich with diversity in its cultural and natural heritage. We also observed dramatic economic inequalities, where cosmopolitan urban neighborhoods contrast with low-income townships around Johannesburg and Cape Town. As we learned from experts in the P&O industry, these inequalities extend to the healthcare system as well. Private prosthetics clinics serving South Africans who own health insurance are well-provisioned, leveraging the latest technology and devices. In contrast, government prosthetic clinics – serving lower-income South Africans – are more likely to have waitlists, require long distances of travel, and offer fewer choices in prosthetic components.

Our goal is to introduce the ReMotion Knee into South African government hospitals, to provide one more tool for hard-working and skilled prosthetists to better serve their patients while saving money. Currently, prosthetists in government hospitals have basically one option for a knee joint that is durable, trustworthy, and affordable, and most prosthetists would say that knee is not ideal for younger, more active amputees. The ReMotion Knee’s polycentric design with straight-forward adjustment was designed from the ground up for young, active adults who walk long distances, live and work in rugged environments — like many South African amputees. It also provides a cosmetically attractive product and more natural gait compared to single-axis knees. By making the ReMotion Knee accessible to government hospitals in South Africa, and providing good service and good training support, we believe we can help expand mobility for amputees who are currently limited to a single-axis knee joint or crutches.

We believe that mobility is a basic human right and should be seen as a global health priority. Mobility empowers people to be active participants in their communities and economies. We’ll continue our work in South Africa by generating data, together with the government hospitals, to show that ReMotion can work well for low-income patients and save hospitals money. We’re grateful to all the P&O professionals in South Africa who share this pursuit and have shared their time and knowledge with us.

Stay tuned for more developments throughout the IDEO.org and Amplify Disability Challenge research and continue to follow us on ReMotion’s Facebook page!

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