e-NABLE in East Africa

Dr. Kyle Reeser sits on a bench in Rwanda between two children with limb difference.
Dr. Kyle Reeser sits on a bench in Rwanda between two children with limb differences.

At the heart of e-NABLE is an incredibly diverse community.  The movement crosses countries and continents, languages and cultures, professions and careers.  For some of our volunteers, supporting our global network involves not only online collaborations but international travel to bring communities together and share resources.  It can also involve taking time away from personal projects, studies, and work. It can be both challenging and rewarding to embrace something larger and far outside the scope of our daily endeavors.

Meet Dr. Kyle Reeser, a recent graduate of Binghamton University in New York.  In the busy final months before completing his Ph.D., Kyle took a 6-week interim from his research on 3D bioprinting technology and gold nanoparticle biomedicine to fly across the world and invest his time in countries he had never visited, with people he had never met. 

A drawn sketch of Dr. Kyle Reeser
A drawn sketch of the African continent with a star for Tanzania & Rwanda.

As part of the Loomio-funded internship, Kyle supported organizations that design and create 3D printed prosthetics for local communities with limb differences in East Africa.  He partnered with Humanitarian Prosthetics & Orthotics at the Gatagara clinic in Rwanda as well as Lake Victoria Disability Center in Tanzania, both working independently from e-NABLE’s online community.  

Using a variety of donated and recycled materials, Kyle contributed to the services provided by these organizations while collecting notes for the design of a mobile e-NABLE Lab.  Kyle is now back in the Rochester Enable Lab and has written an extraordinary 9-part series of articles and media albums.  Each article documents the physical, social, and economic challenges of disabled communities in East Africa.  It’s a wonderful resource for anyone interested in supporting their local efforts and provides insights for his mobile e-NABLE lab project. To learn more, visit Kyle’s e-NABLE Hub project wiki for his detailed series or scroll through his articles below with summaries and photos from each.

Soon after his return, Kyle was successful in completing his Ph.D.  To learn more about Dr. Kyle Reeser’s work in bioprinting, check out this article from the Binghamton University. Congratulations Kyle, and thanks for your contributions!

Below are articles about Kyle’s trip and the experiences he had as well as the things he learned while visiting these centers and clinics.

Article 1

Lake Victoria Disability Centre

Resources, services, and the lunch menu for people with disabilities in Musoma, Tanzania.

What language did Kyle practice everyday at Mama Mzuka’s Lunch Shack? (Hint: It wasn’t spoken!)

A typical lunch at Lake Victoria Disability Centre: rice, beans, and a very small fish

Article 2

HVP-Gatagara and ORTHOLAB: An Introduction

58 years of missionary outreach for people with disabilities in Gatagara village, Rwanda.

Roberto Postelmans loans equipment and materials to host facilities for how many years before graduation?

Roberto Postelmans displays his 3D printer and works in the lab

Article 3

Low-Resource Prosthetic Devices for a Bilateral Amputee

Thermoforming recycled plastic bottles over plaster casts to make improvised solutions.

For how many years did the recipient rely on help from his family to eat his lunch before the new device?

A young man with bilateral amputations eats lunch.  Drawn labels over the photo identify aspects of the design.

Article 4

A Design for a 3D Printed Lower Limb Prosthetic Device

After 6 years of development, new materials help to create successful low-cost lower limb prosthetic devices for children in Rwanda.

Which materials were used in this new design?

A step-by-step look at the prosthetic foot design.  5 stages of the 3D printed foot are lined next to each other.

Article 5

3D Printed Orthotic Devices: A Potential New Frontier for e-NABLE?

Exploring brace designs, materials, demand, and common cases in Tanzania & Rwanda.

Name one condition that could be treated with 3D Printed Orthotic devices in the future?

A commercially-available foot abduction brace is placed on a table.  It appears to be two sandles connected by a metal bar.

Article 6

A Design for a 3-Piece Transradial Socket and Cosmetic Hand

3D scanning and new materials for a socket system that supports a variety of terminal devices.

What coating can be used to match skin tones with 3D printed prosthetic devices?

Several views of a 3D printed cosmetic hand with red fingernails.

Article 7

Notes on Life in East Africa and Tips for Future Missions

Transportation, utilities, communications, money, food, weather, safety, and daily life.

What are 3 means of transportation in East Africa that Kyle used?

Dr. Kyle Reeser carrying a metal stand on the back of a mototaxi.  Another volunteer sits on the back and smiles.

Article 8

A Prototype for an Inexpensive Foot Abduction Brace Using 3D Printing

Reverse engineering orthotics devices using new materials.

How much cheaper are the brace prototypes that Kyle developed compared to the commercial products?

A 3D printed bar attached to low-cost foot abduction brace boots.

Article 9

Creating Soft Sockets and 3D Scans from Plaster Casts

Traditional and new processes paired together to create custom prosthetic devices

Why is blue plaster used in developing plaster casts?

Several photos show the thermoforming of a soft socket under vacuum, along with the process and tools.

One of the most incredible parts of the e-NABLE community is how we are able to learn from and help each other grow, help people we have never met and get to experience things we never imagined possible.

There are countless ways in which we can all make a difference.

Thank you for helping us to grow!

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