Sorry it’s been a while. Life has been busy!

First, an update on our work. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we continue to work in the O&P fabrication lab at Proteus. Our days are filled with tasks that result in completed orthoses and prostheses. We’ve observed measurements, scanning, and casting of patients and have participated in mold filling, modification, thermoforming, cutting, grinding, and assembling prostheses. The work is fun and rewarding since we get to see the process from start to finish. We also have had the opportunity to meet some of the patients and hear what they have to say.

Tuesdays and Thursdays we spend in the ROMP Development Lab. This is ROMP’s maker space where they do innovative problem solving to bring more O&P care to people who need it most. It’s a tiny office, but some amazing work comes out of it. Last week, Collin and I finalized and submitted project proposals that outline which ROMP projects we will specifically be working  on while we are here. Collin will be designing improvements to a “dressing tree” that allows someone who has had both arms amputated to dress themselves. I will be conducting a comparative study of different 3D printed hand models that ROMP is working on. The three hands: FlexyHand, Victoria Hand, and HackBerry can be used for different purposes, but ROMP needs to collect data about how to match patients with the best hand to meet their goals, how much the hands can do, and how to most efficiently manufacture each type.

Outside of our work, we’ve had another week of incredible experiences. Saturday, we climbed three peaks that are near Quito: Wawa Pichincha (15,696 ft), Padre Encantado, and Rucu Pichincha (15,413 ft). We climbed with Greg and Diana, our housemates, as well as Becca, a visiting ROMP volunteer, and Kathy, an enthusiastic ROMP patient who climbs with a prosthetic foot. Coming from an elevation of 600 ft, the climbs were tough for me but we submitted all three peaks and rode back down to Quito on a cable car line called the Teleferico. One of the highlights of the day was finding a herd of wild horses in a valley between two of the peaks.

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Sunday, I woke up early and traveled with a friend of our housemates to Quilotoa, a water-filled caldera a few hours south of Quito. We met a couple from England on our way and spent the day with them, hiking, kayaking the bright green crater lake, and enjoying an almuerzo.

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It has been fun to meet so many unique people that start as total strangers. Sharing stories and perspectives with these surprise acquaintances like the fellow students we met on my birthday, Mariel (my Quilotoa travel companion), or Tom and Kate from England is so rewarding! Further proof that travel is all about who you’re with.

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