The past couple of weeks have been amazing for a number of reasons: first, two Bump boys got married to wonderful women. I was fortunate to get to jam at both weddings. Second, the OpenSocket made its first splash into South America. Between the two weddings, I had managed to make a 10-day trip to Ecuador and Colombia.
The Krupa brothers and Pat Mathay picked me up at the airport in Quito, Ecuador, and hosted me for the week that I was there. Ecuador is a beautiful country full of mountains, cloud forests, and jungles. The city of Quito lies nearly two miles above sea level, which gives it a cool climate that would not be expected in a city that is right on the Equator.
Dave Krupa owns a prosthetics clinic in Quito by the name of Protéus. There he runs his private practice and generously does work for the Range of Motion Project as well. I worked with Dave's staff to fit three transradial amputees with brand new OpenSockets. All patients left the clinic pleased with their new arms, especially impressed by how lightweight they were in comparison to the custom-fit arms they were using before.
After a couple of days at Protéus, I spent a day with the inspirational Fundación Hermano Miguel, which is a multi-faceted rehabilitation center for people with disabilities who do not have access to private care. I gave a technical presentation about the OpenSocket to the prosthetics staff, and then watched in awe as they conducted two fittings with very little need for assistance or correction. Leaving the Fundación, all signs pointed towards an expanded, long-term partnership.
From Quito I flew to Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia. Bogotá, which has over 8 million inhabitants, is a very beautiful and modern city. As soon as I arrived, I made my way to the Universidad de los Andes where I gave a presentation about the OpenSocket and Bump to engineering students in a prosthetics design course. The course is being taught by Michael Morely, a long-time friend of Bump.
After wrapping up class, Michael and I went to Laboratorio Gilete, a private prosthetics clinic. There I gave a technical presentation and helped the staff to fit three patients (one of whom had a bilateral amputation). In less than two hours, we were finished with the four OpenSockets. The staff certainly was excited about the fundamentally shorter time it takes to fit a patient with Bump’s technology.
The next day Michael and I visited Centro Integral de Rehabilitación de Colombia, which provides rehabilitative care as a nonprofit organization. There we had a great talk with the scientific director who vowed to try out the OpenSocket with a couple of his patients. We are going to coordinate a shipment of a couple arms to him very soon.
My final day in Colombia was a powerful one. I flew to the city of Pereira, which is located in the coffee growing belt of Colombia. There I was received with unparalleled hospitality by the Trauma Heroes Association of Colombia. After a delicious breakfast, we proceeded to a community center where there were many speeches and presentations that interspersed the two OpenSocket fittings. The Colombia founder of the organization even Skyped in to the event from Spain to see how things were going. It was an incredible day, to cap off an incredible trip. I have no doubt that several of these organizations will keep using the OpenSocket, and help Bump to reach further into South America.
After flying thousands of miles, fitting a number of amputees, and busting some serious dance moves, I am back home in Guatemala. Thank you to all of our partner organizations and sponsors for bringing the OpenSocket to those who need it the most.