The Peruvian engineer who was inspired by Luke Skywalker to design low-cost prosthesesSíguenos en:
Enzo Romero from Cusco has been recognized for his venture: designing prostheses that adapt to the needs of each user at more affordable prices. He is about to perform at TED Fellows 2022, in Canada.
Enzo Romero was seven years old when he watched a scene in ‘Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back’ that marked him and inspired him: the new robotic hand with sensitivity, designed by an android for Luke Skywalker. He, who has a congenital absence of that limb, wanted to do the same. He recalled that moment when he chose to study mechatronics engineering. He left his home town Urubamba (Cuzco) to go to Lima and study at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) (PUCP). In 2016, he worked with the research team from the university and won a fund to design a hand prosthesis.
The 27-year-old engineer currently has a multidisciplinary team with which he has formed Lat Bionics, a venture that develops customized upper limb prostheses at low cost for people who have suffered an accident or were born without a limb. "For a worker, it is the worst-case scenario because you do not have support and, since there is no national industry, the prosthesis importing costs are very high", said the Peruvian to Innova Spain. Importing a prosthesis can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $25,000, without any technical service or customization. His initiative allows the price of a prosthesis to range between 3,000 and 4,500 soles, depending on whether it is only the fingers or the entire hand.
They also analyze social, economic, psychological, and orthopedic scenarios. Its founder insists that the loss of upper limbs is not limited to a physical health problem: it has an occupational therapist and a psychologist who evaluate each patient before starting the process. "On the psychological side, we see if the denial and mourning part for losing one of the limbs have been overcome", he explained to the Andina agency. With their 3D machine, they scan the amputated section. In the computer, based on the dimensions of a finger, its length and its diameter, "we can create the rest of the fingers, the palm and, most importantly, the prosthetic fitting, since no type of amputation is similar to the other."
His determination has been recognized, even internationally. In 2019, Mark Hamill, the actor who plays Skywalker in the movies, congratulated his work via Twitter: “I'm in awe of this incredible real-life hero!” He has recently been elected a member of TED Fellows 2022 - an internship program providing transformational support to an international community that collaborates in various disciplines to bring about change - in Canada.
“It's about being part of a community where there are not only entrepreneurs but also scientists working in different disciplines. Nothing seems more sustaining and enriching than sharing experiences and learning from others." Fellows receive training in oratory and media; professional training; educational programming and connection with industry leaders, as well as tools that will allow them to make their way on the global stage.
Enzo's work has raised the profile of Peru. May the strength continue to go with him.