MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellows Offsite – Kenya 2014

Low-cost prosthetic socket design in Kenya

It is reported that a majority of amputees experience some form of discomfort when wearing their prosthesis. This is largely in part because, in both developing and developed regions, the current standard for fabricating a prosthetic socket is manual plaster casting. This is a largely artisanal process that requires significant man-hours, is inconvenient for the patient, and is not reproducible.

To this end, the Biomechatronics Group has a significant research program to address these challenges. Our projects in this area are centered on using anatomical imaging and/or robotic measurement tools to quantify tissue properties of a residual limb that can then be used to design more effective and comfortable prosthetic sockets. This will not only improve the everyday life of individuals with lower limb amputations, but will also drive down their healthcare costs in the long term.

While in Kenya on the Director’s Fellow’s Offsite, we worked with Gateway Prosthetics and the Nairobi iHub to determine opportunities to translate techniques that we are developing in the lab, to the field – where we are hoping it can have a very direct and meaningful impact. We worked closely with local prosthetists and patients, and were very encouraged by our results.

Moving forward, we are developing a more detailed protocol for the next phase of our research project. We are also scoping out endeavors that could engage students on MIT’s Campus by defining projects that could be part of an MIT D-Lab Course that members of our research team co-teach.



Bryan Ranger, David Moinina Sengeh, Arthur Petron: PhD students in the Biomechatronics Group at the MIT Media Lab.

Peter Ongubo: Clinical director and prosthetist at Gateway Prosthetics in Nairobi, Kenya.

Juliana Rotich: Co-founder of Ushahidi and the Nairobi iHub, MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow.

*Photo credits: Bryan Ranger, Artem Dementyev, Colin Raney