Silver 2017 / Design For Society / Design for Society / Professional

Bamboo & Rattan Crutch For Africa

  • Director
    Fei Kong

The Bamboo and Rattan Crutch is specially designed to address mobility issues in Africa and Asia by giving people the power to easily construct crutches with sustainable, local material. This project was born when I broke my leg. During my recovery process, I realized that typical metal crutches are neither comfortable nor sustainable. During my material research for redesigning sustainable crutches I found that there is a strong need for crutches in third world countries (especially African countries) due to birth defects, accidental maiming, landmines, various parasites, etc. Charities and organizations are trying to help by shipping used crutches to areas of need, but it costs a lot of effort and money to collect and transport crutches. In light of this need, I came up with the idea to use local material to produce low cost, easily constructed crutches that are accessible to impoverished inhabitants of third world countries. Rattan and bamboo are two stalks that grow hollow and strong. Bamboo when harvested becomes a very sturdy material while Rattan, a thinner stalk, remains relatively flexible. Both Bamboo and Rattan are fast growing, easy to produce, and low-cost crops, which makes them accessible and sustainable materials. Rattan stalks are formed around a mould using steam, dried, and then inserted into the bamboo base. Discarded bicycle tire inner tube, a non- biodegradable elastic material that is abundant in impoverished areas, is used as an adjustable stopper on the body of the crutch and a grip on the cap of the crutch. This crutch is simple and cheap to produce, easily adjustable, comfortable to use, lightweight and stable. Producing this crutch could not only help those with mobility needs, but also promote local commerce in third world countries.

Photo Credit: Fei Kong