Make a career in making a difference

Updated: Sep 2 2014, 04:28am hrs
Not many sports enthusiasts may have heard about Farman Basha. An Indian powerlifter, he represented India at the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Before that, he won a bronze medal at the Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China (he was later upgraded to a Silver after an Iranian player was disqualified). Basha, who was in Glasgow for the XX Commonwealth Games, was treated by the National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics (NCPO), University of Strathclyde, recently. Basha uses calipers and a wheelchair and when he had a problem with his calipers, the biomedical people at the university sorted it out. In India, the NCPO has been working with Mukti, an organisation that provides prosthesis (artificial limbs) to the amputees and calipers to the polio-afflicted persons. In this interview, Anthony McGarry, academic member of staff in the Dept of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, tells FEs Vikram Chaudhary about the Mukti project and more. Excerpts:

What is the Mukti project

The Mukti project is organised by a team of students and staff from the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde who work jointly with the charitable organisation Mukti in Chennai, whose aim is to give patients the freedom to walk, work and be independent. The project, initiated in 2011, provides training and education to staff at the Mukti clinic whilst developing the skills and experience of Strathclyde students, and involves annual visits of staff with undergraduate students.

How is the Biomedical Engineering Department helping Mukti in furthering the cause of rehabilitating the lives of amputees

A Strathclyde team of staff and students visit and work in the Mukti clinic for two weeks each year. A donation is made to Mukti to cover the costs of all limbs made by staff and students during this time. The team works at the centre alongside Mukti clinicians and this enables clinical training to be provided to Mukti staff by NCPO staff and students.

What is your long-term goal

To allow Strathclyde students to work with alternative technologies in different cultures; to transfer state-of-the-art practice to the Mukti clinic; to achieve a step change through continuous upgrade in the delivery of prosthetic and orthotic services provided in Chennai; and to promote a sustainable and collaborative relationship between the University of Strathclyde and the Mukti clinic.

What are the advantages of pursuing an interdisciplinary course like BSc Honours in Prosthetics and Orthotics What are the career prospects for students pursuing this course

The course combines the study of the body with engineering principles. It is a rewarding and practical career with development opportunities. The global shortage of prosthetic and orthotic professionals makes these graduates highly employable. Hence, career prospects are very good. Our graduates have established careers in the UK health service, in industry, in education, with international relief agencies and in many different countries overseas. Prosthetic treatment of those with major limb loss is variable in India. Too few appropriately qualified practitioners are available to provide adequate service in the underfunded public sector. So there are ample career opportunities.