A-LIMB, Desiree Riny

Desiree Riny is a Melbourne-based industrial designer applying a combination of technical, digital and soft skills to develop innovative solutions to everyday problems within the social and medical sector. Her work draws on the applied arts and science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, functionality and usability of products, making them more efficient for users. 

Desiree is currently participating in the RMIT Activator program where she is continuing to develop solutions that allow amputees to reclaim their prosthetic care by enabling them to design DIY lower limb prosthetics, informed by current medical ‘best practice’ and utilizing materials accessible in the developing world. 

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This project is dedicated to reclaiming prosthetic care for amputee’s that live in rural communities within developing countries. Amputees in these communities often cannot afford professional prosthetic care or live too far away from existing services. While new technologies and services are currently being integrated into prosthetic services in developing countries, these developments often don’t reach those most in need, with up to 95% of amputees going without access to care. Compounding this problem, devices produced with advanced technologies such as 3D printing are often difficult to repair and not always suited to rural environments. Faced with these limitations, amputees find innovative DIY responses which are tailored to local materials and traditional practices.

The aim for this project is to evaluate the technologies, materials and processes currently accessible in specific locations within Africa (Sudan, South Sudan and Cameroon), India (West Bengaland Jharkhand) and Cambodia (Ratanakiri and Battambang). The resulting designs seek to give amputees independence and control over the construction of their own prosthetics, without dependence on health care practitioners and NGO organisations for ongoing prosthetic care.

The project uses visual ethnography to gain an in-depth understanding of practices of re-purposing, repairing and crafting within these rural communities and builds on this understanding through extensive prototyping. Project outcomes include the design of a new DIY lower-limb prosthetic and an associated DIY manual that proposes an alternative process for providing best practice prosthetic care to rural communities within Africa, India and Cambodia.

This project is another concrete example of the power of design. A simple idea that also aims to restore dignity and hope to those who are not as lucky as others. Visit the Desiree Riny’s website to know more!

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