After nearly seven years of war, tens of thousands of Syrians have fallen victim to the violent chaos surrounding them. Many have suffered injuries in efforts to escape air strikes from government warplanes. Two years ago there were reports of roughly 30,000 Syrians suffering from loss of limbs but today that has increased to nearly 90,000, according to the World Health Organization. Conservative estimates claim there could be more Syrian civilians who have lost limbs from shrapnel but are in confinement, so the injury goes unreported.
The disability charity Handicap International spent time on the ground in war-torn countries like Syria and Cambodia to explore new methods of prosthetics. Some Syrians suffering from loss of limb have turned to prosthetics in an attempt to reclaim a sense of normalcy amidst the seemingly inescapable shooting and bombing episodes due to the ongoing multi-sided armed conflict.
This on-the-ground assessment of prosthetics in countries like Syria helped scientists conclude that many Syrians, who had amputations following war injuries and congenital diseases, did not have access to well-fitting and functional prosthetics. One Syrian amputee named Husam al-Zeno shared with news reporters that he had escaped Eastern Ghouta on prosthetic legs that were sized for a young girl. While sizing issues are a reality for many Syrians suffering from loss of limb, others struggle to obtain prosthetics due to financial constraints.
Prosthetics in countries like Syria lack practicality because of sizing and accessibility issues. For those who have access to prosthetics found that the only real function plastic limbs served were cosmetic. The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Foundation, which supports medical and humanitarian innovation and research, is one of the leading funders in the 3D printed prosthetics project. Director Clara Nordon believes 3D printed prosthetics is the future for Syrians suffering from loss of limb as well for others around the world, especially those in war-torn countries. Nordon, however, goes on to say that the foundation will only claim 3D printed prosthetics as successful when “proven valuable by patients.”