OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - 23

COVER

Jan Andrysek, P.Eng., LegWorks, has built
an internationally renowned R&D program
focused on developing affordable, highfunctioning lower limb prosthetics that
improve the mobility and lives of amputees
living in low resource countries.
TELL US WHERE YOU GREW UP AND WHO WAS
YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE FOR PURSUING
ENGINEERING?
I grew up in the Czech Republic and my Dad was an
engineer. He would build toys with us because much of
what we had were things that we had made. Very early on I
learned to build things. I was also very interested in taking
things apart to learn how they worked.
WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL AND WHAT
DEGREE DID YOU EARN?
I went to the University of Guelph which at the time had
a very new program in bio-medical engineering. When I
started I think it was only in its second year and they only
had a handful of students. The program excited me - the
idea of being able to apply technical skills to improve or
augment how human bodies worked. That was my first
introduction to bio-medical engineering. From there I
decided to apply to graduate school at the University of
Toronto on a topic that really excited me - that was the
development of prosthetics and knee joint technologies.
Which actually is the work that I am continuing to do today.
WHAT IMPACT DID YOUR THESIS PROJECT HAVE ON
WHAT YOU ARE DOING TODAY?
The thesis project that was part of my master's graduate
studies was really the beginning of the research that I'm
conducting now. From that research were born some of
the technologies that we have been able to develop. So
that was really the point where I learned how to conduct
research and develop some of my first designs, they didn't
work, but it really was an amazing learning experience
that then allowed me to go on to develop something that
actually did work.
SO, YOU'VE BEEN AT THIS A LONG TIME THEN?
These are complex problems. In the beginning there was
a steep learning curve. A lot of the designs that we initially
came up with and tested weren't successful but really lead
to us learning how to come up with a design that would
be successful. I spent many years developing and testing
different designs and ultimately there was one evening

"Our goal is to develop and deliver
cost-effective but highly functional
and high quality prosthetic
devices to individuals, regardless
of their ability to pay."

that this light came on in terms of 'how to' solve all the
issues that we were encountering with the other designs.
That was the beginning - obviously there were still many
steps in terms of clinical trials that we had to conduct and
ultimately the commercialization of the device - but that
was the beginning.
HOW WOULD YOU SAY YOUR WORK HAS IMPACTED
INDIVIDUALS OR SOCIETY AS A WHOLE?
LegWorks is a social for-profit enterprise with the goal of
trying to provide mobility to people around the world. We
develop and deliver cost-effective, high-functioning and
high-quality prosthetic devices to individuals regardless of
their ability to pay. There is a business side of the company
where we provide an affordable high-functioning knee
joint to individuals in Canada and the United States which funds our operations; and then there is the project
side where we bring in funding for people in countries like
Ghana or Tanzania and Cambodia. Here we've been able
to raise foundation and grant funding to build prothesis
for individuals and get them up and walking. We have
formalized and put measurement systems in place to see if
there is an improvement in the lifestyle and the wellbeing of
the individuals who receive these prothesis. We're currently
working in over 30 countries around the world.
June 2018

THE VOICE

23



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of OSPE - The Voice - June 2018

Table of Contents
OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - Cover1
OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - Cover2
OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - Table of Contents
OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - 4
OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - 5
OSPE - The Voice - June 2018 - 6
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