Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti

Saving Lives, Changing Lives

Monday, August 23, 2010

A conversation with Carsten Stauf

The patients at the HAS Hanger prosthetics lab have appreciated the gift of new mobility which comes with the prosthetics device. Recently, they have been able to benefit from a new device, the Haiti Knee, which was designed by the Medi corporation in Germany to address the specific needs of Haitian patients. Recently, Rebecca Rawson had the chance to talk in Deschapelles with the engineer who designed the Haiti Knee.

Carsten Stauf shows the Haiti Knee
to HAS Managing Director Ian Rawson
Carsten Stauf is the chief project engineer and inventor of the “Haiti Knee.”  He and his colleagues at Medi, a German company headquartered in Bayreuth, Bavaria, have been providing prostheses to the Hanger Corporation for decades.  When Hanger opened the prosthetics lab at HAS, Medi sent them the first prosthetics systems for Haiti. These have been life-altering for over 500 Haitians.

Carsten developed the “Haiti Knee” to respond to the unique challenges in Haiti, such as the uneven terrain and the gait of the people.  The “Haiti Knee” is lighter and more durable with a titanium head that features greaseless Teflon to make it easy to articulate, and therefore to walk.  The head attaches to 2 carbon rods that can be adjusted to the individual’s height.  It is a neat and efficient system.  Medi has given HAS 300 of these units as well as 300 pairs of shoes, made in Austria, which will cover the hospital’s needs until next summer. 

Long term plans between these collaborators include 2-week rotations at the Hanger lab of Medi-related personnel, such as certified prosthetic orthoticians and physical therapists, to alternate with the Hanger personnel.  Medi is also making a 15-minute documentary by a German film crew that will premiere in Orlando, Florida at the upcoming World Congress meeting of Orthotics and Prostheticians.  It will then be sent all over Europe during the holidays with the aim of creating a registry of doctors, CPOs and physical therapists who would come to volunteer at HAS.

As each patient puts on a new leg at the Hanger Clinic, they may not understand that this prosthesis is the result of an international collaboration which reaches from Germany to the United States to Haiti, but they are overjoyed to have this new mobility, and to be able to look forward to a future which includes the possibility of employment, going to market, and being with family.