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Dr Pramod Karan Sethi, inventor, Jaipur Foot, Jaipur Foot technology, India, Swai Man Singh hospital, Jaipur, artificial limbs, post surgical rehabilitation, rehabilitation centre, Ram Chander Sharma, Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti, crutches, Dr Sethi, disability and development partners, DDP, disabled organisation, disabled people
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Dr Pramod Karan Sethi, inventor, Jaipur Foot, Jaipur Foot technology, India, Swai Man Singh hospital, Jaipur, artificial limbs, post surgical rehabilitation, rehabilitation centre, Ram Chander Sharma, Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti, crutches, Dr Sethi, disability and development partners, DDP, disabled organisation, disabled people
 

Dr Pramod Karan Sethi

Dr Pramod Karan Sethi, inventor of the Jaipur Foot
Dr P K Sethi
Jaipur feet
Jaipur feet
  Dr Pramod Karan Sethi widely reputed as the inventor of the Jaipur Foot passed away on 6 January 2008 aged 80.

This article is a result of interviews with Dr Sethi between 1993-94 and DDP’s experience in promoting the Jaipur Foot technology in India and in other countries. 

The Jaipur Foot - History and Controversy


When Dr Sethi, started work in 1953 as a newly qualified orthopaedic surgeon at the Swai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital in Jaipur, there were no facilities for post surgical rehabilitation. Patients who could afford the expense were referred to Pune near Bombay, more than a 1,000 miles away to buy artificial limbs or they went to New Delhi or overseas. Dr Sethi was asked by the hospital authorities to set up a rehabilitation centre where artificial limbs could be made and fitted. Amongst the staff at the rehabilitation centre was Ram Chander Sharma employed to teach new skills to those who had lost limbs or who were paralysed to make handicrafts, so that they could be better off when they left hospital. Ram Chander Sharma also known as ‘Masterji’ was highly skilled in various traditional arts and craft forms.

The setting up of the centre was also to coincide with celebrations to mark a major anniversary of the birth of one of India’s great religious figures. A charitable foundation, Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayta Samiti (BMVSS) formed to mark this event began to attract donations for the centre. The SMS rehabilitation centre was originally set up using conventional SACH foot technology. Dr Sethi soon realised that many amputees he had fitted at the centre were not using their limbs. Jaipur was a small city then and he kept coming across people he had helped who were not using their artificial limbs but were using crutches and some on street corners begging. Some of his colleagues were quick to dismiss these people as lazy saying that they just wanted an easy life. But Dr Sethi felt that he needed to find the real reason, so he began asking amputees he had treated why they had discarded their artificial limbs. 

The answer that came back was very simple, the majority of amputees said they could not use them. The limbs they had been given were made on the conventional western model, with a rigid foot that needed a shoe and a leg fitting that did not allow squatting or sitting on the floor. Indian tradition requires all footwear to be removed when entering the home or places of worship; it is also a mark of respect and hygienic too. Most activities in the home and at work especially in rural areas are carried out at floor level and therefore the ability to squat or sit on the floor was essential. With conventional prosthetic feet, a shoe had to be worn otherwise walking ‘barefoot’ was not possible. Shoes were expensive and in any case most rural folk did not wear shoes. These limbs also proved useless for farmers in muddy fields; the shoe is sucked into the mud and remained there! more>>
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