A sample interactive website where children can customize interchangeable sleeves for their prosthetic limbs
Thanks to 3D printing, prosthetic limbs have become extremely affordable for a lot of amputees. Even then, the use of prosthetic limbs, especially in children, is fairly limited. In order to understand what it would take to accelerate the transformation provided by 3D printed limbs, researchers at University of Central Florida and Oregon Health and Science University are focusing on various problems that still need to be tackled when it comes to prosthetics, especially through clinical trials and the ever growing maker community.
According to CDC, Over 32,500 children in the US have gone through amputation, and a few more have undergone upper limb reduction procedures. In theory, prosthetic limbs are made available for these children, but a lot of them are rejected because of un-appealing aesthetic design, weight, lack of affordability, or insurance related issues. Through these prosthetic limbs, children are not only attempting to address the limitations of missing natural limbs, they’re also tackling various levels of self-consciousness and self-image issues of wearing an artificial limb in public. Because of these factors, aesthetics of prosthetic limbs become extremely important, especially when the child is expected to wear it long term. In addition, ill-fitted or unappealing design can make users uncomfortable, making them more conscious and frustrated, which might lead to ostracization.
To overcome all these hurdles, many makers are working with designers to make very appealing limbs that fit into the overall personality of the user. Not only that, several makers and designers work directly with children to give them the exact design they need. This increases user engagement, ultimately encouraging them to be positive towards their prosthetic limb. In some cases, researchers and designers have also been working on “Interchangeable sleeves” that can make prosthetic limbs even more appealing.These sleeves can be easily customized to a website by providing various styles, colors, and effects with the ability to compare, select and personalize. Providing great design and visual appeal is a great step towards making a child to accept their own prosthetic leg. To make them even more comfortable, a research team has also created a Mario style video game that initiates superpowers, attacks and defenses based on how our child contracting muscles. This fun video game provides significant training through simulation and teaches various complex multigesture hand states.
What it comes down to is not just providing functionality but also doing what it takes to make prosthetic limbs more acceptable for children. To learn more details about what researchers are doing to make prosthetic limbs more acceptable, hit the source links, especially the research article.