Jaipur Foot Connects Philanthropy with Technology

The Jaipur Foot is designed to be an economical way for people who need prosthesis compared to any prosthetic. The first Jaipur Foot was hand-assembled, used low-tech materials such as plaster and clothing to tailor moulding, and used expensive carbon fibre only secured in areas where flexibility is needed like around the toes.

Nevertheless, that is not to say the makings of Jaipur Foot is crude. The combination of rich traditional craftsmanship and prosthetic science was necessary, which led to the creation of Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS).

Combining charity and technology

In collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the society aims to improve prosthesis through the usage of new materials and technology.

BMVSS, a registered non-profit society that helps the poor and the disabled, trailblazed high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes to be used in prosthetic applications. HDPE is a lightweight thermoplastic with causes high-impact resistance and tensile power. Furthermore, it is not affected by weather changes due to its inert material.

Devendra Raj Mehta, the founder of BMVSS, also collaborated with Stanford University and introduced the self-lubricating Jaipur Knee or the Stanford-Jaipur Knee. This has been hailed by Time magazine (issue of November 23, 2009) as one of the 50 Best Inventions of the World in the year 2009. The

Jaipur Knee replicates the joint’s natural movements so that patients can easily live normal lives. There are also ongoing research projects with MIT on the development of a low-cost artificial hand.

As a result of all these projects and advancements in the prosthetic industry, BMVSS’s products are comparable to those created by commercial organizations. Prof. C.K. Prahlad in his book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” observed that in the year 2002 while the cost of the Jaipur Limb was US $30, the cost for a comparable limb in the USA was US $ 8,000. Currently, the average cost of Jaipur Limb to BMVSS is about US $50 against to the reported price of US $12,000 for a comparable limb in the USA. The society is funded by grants and donations, with the aim of constantly innovating for social good.

That said, this emphasizes BMVSS’ social philosophy with the purpose of having a greater responsibility to ensure better quality for all. The Jaipur Foot technology, which is not patented and still in the public domain, makes it available to the poor. Those who cannot afford artificial limbs and rehabilitation aids are being provided by BMVSS totally free of charge!

People from all over India and the world come to Jaipur to get their foot fitted. This puts BMVSS on the map, not only because of their philanthropic resolve to help many people, but also how their products can be made better through technology. And it’s all because BMVSS is a patient-centered organization that makes it a success.