About the Project

The economic and physical burden of long bone fractures in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) is overwhelming.

In Uganda, 2 years post injury, only 12% of patients who sustained a femur or tibia fracture recover both economically and physically [1]. Due to cost and resource limitations, there is no reliable solution to realign displaced lower extremity fractures intra-operatively which is crucial prior to surgical fixation of these fractures. Improper fracture fixation commonly leads to permanent deformity and/or disability, economic hardship, amputation, and poor quality of life.

The Orthopaedic Traction Kit (OTK) was developed as part of the Engineers in Scrubs (EiS) program to address the aforementioned need. It is an intra-operative device that enables orthopaedic surgeons in LMICs to access the same functionality as a full traction table that is the standard of care in high-income countries for the fixation of acute hip and femur fractures.

[1] O’Hara NN, Mugarura R, Potter J, Stephens T, Rehavi MM, Francois P, Blachut PA, O’Brien PJ, Mezei A, Beyeza T, & Slobogean GP. The socioeconomic implications of isolated tibial and femoral fractures from road traffic injuries in Uganda. J Bone Joint Surg. 2018; 100(7):e43.

Future Potential

The future potential of the project is such that the OTK becomes a sustainable solution for all LMICs whereby the concept is openly disseminated so that the information is accessible globally to all LMIC surgeons.

Reflections on the EiS Program

Graham – “In early 2017, I came to the realization that I am happiest when I am able to work in an engineering field that allows me to have a direct and positive impact on the well-being of others. I decided to leave my mechanical engineering job in Toronto, Ontario to pursue an MASc in Biomedical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. I believed that upon completion of this two year program, I would be set up for my dream career, but thanks to Engineers in Scrubs (EiS), my dream career began much sooner than anticipated.

Through EiS, I was able to take tours of medical facilities, shadow doctors and surgeons, and collaborate with them to design biomedical devices. Not only was I able to work closely with some of the top healthcare professionals in Canada, I got the opportunity to trial a medical device with my team members in a foreign country, and see a patient benefit from our device with my own eyes. Before starting my MASc, I believed that an opportunity like this would be the pinnacle of my career, but because of EiS, it is only the beginning.”

Andrew – “EiS is a very unique program that provides a holistic view of the medical devices we strive to design and implement. The program completely broadened my view of engineering design, and I cannot overstate the tremendous value of direct collaboration between engineering students and practicing clinicians.”

David – “As a surgeon-in-training, the EiS program helped me understand the process that engineers go through in the development of surgical tools and devices. My experience in EiS motivates me to identify and improve surgical problems that can be addressed by collaboration between engineers and clinicians.”

Justin – “The EiS program has allowed me to be apart of an interdisciplinary environment where I was able to collaborate with clinicians on the development of a surgical device in a low resource setting. It has influenced how I approach design whether it be in a clinical or non-clinical setting. Additionally, EiS has given me the opportunity to travel to Uganda to further refine the device in the field. Everything from patient interactions, to collaborating with engineers and clinicians (both Canadian and Ugandan), to being immersed in another health care landscape has been an absolutely humbling experience.”


SBME Graduate Student Travel Award

SBME Graduate Student Knowledge Mobilization Fund

Team Members

• Graham Fonseca

• Andrew Schmidt

• David Stockton

• Justin Yu


• Kisitu Kyengera, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Uganda

• Uganda Sustainable Trauma Orthopaedic Program (USTOP)

• The University of British Columbia School of Biomedical Engineering