Impact 2014: Prosthetic limbs made fast and on the cheap

It took an accidental meeting in Switzerland of three brilliant minds - a Jordanian orthopaedic technician, a scholar from Brazil, and a Swiss - to give birth to a start-up producing quality prosthetic legs at a low cost.

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Called the SwissLeg, it is made on site - in the patient's home.

Similar to plastering a broken limb, the cast of the missing leg is created and a robust artificial limb is made from a mix of polymers. Once heated, this material becomes flexible and can be easily moulded and, when cooled, it is highly resistant to deformation.

"In general, after about three hours, the patient is able to walk," says Mr Roberto Agosta, the co-founder and chief operations officer of SwissLeg.

To date, about 1,000 people have received one or two SwissLeg limbs, mainly in war zones - Syria, North and South Sudan and Ethiopia.

According to Mr Agosta, there are about 32 million amputees in the world. Of these, 80 per cent live in developing countries and only 5 per cent have access to adequate prostheses.

Mr Paulo Goncalves, CEO of SwissLeg, adds: "Walking is a fundamental right that no man, woman or child should be forced to give up."

GENEROSO CHIARADONNA/LA REGIONE TICINO (SWITZERLAND)