The number of combat veterans using prosthetic legs has perhaps changed the way that people see those with prosthetic legs, many people with prosthetics though would rather people didn’t see the prosthetics as something that defined them at all.
Even when covered by clothing a prosthetic leg can often be spotted, the way that clothes sit on the complicated mechanics of the leg isn’t natural. In shorts or skirts having a prosthetic leg on show is of course very difficult not to spot. Modern prosthetic legs are very advanced and the use of springs and joints make them work and move in many ways like a real leg but they look very little like one. Many users of modern prosthetics find they feel like bionic men and women and for women especially this isn’t what could be called an elegant look.
Fairings are the coverings supplied for prosthetics in some cases but these are often uncomfortable to use and don’t look at all realistic. 3D printing services are now being used to come up with a solution though and fleshing out much more comfortable prosthetic limbs that in the future should include arms as well.
Sarah Reinertsen is one of the most famous people with a prosthetic limb in the world, being a record setting triathlete. It is her left leg that she lost when she was a child and despite this she has been successful in a sport including swimming, cycling and running. She still though would like her limb to look less like a piece of machinery though and is therefore working with start-up company Bespoke Innovations.
Bespoke Innovations aim to use 3D printing services to create bespoke covers for prosthetic limbs, known as fairings, these bespoke covers will be both printed to fit perfectly but also with custom designs on the outside to reflect the wearers personality.
Each person is a different character and physically different, their leg is usually made in a bespoke way and the way their fairings should look should be likewise bespoke. There is length to consider of course but also a 5’10 male combat veteran won’t want a leg that looks the same shape as one for a 5’10 elderly female.
Before a 3D leg covering can be sent to a 3D printing service a scan is needed of the prosthetic leg and the person’s other leg to make sure the covers fit perfectly and match in terms of shape.
The customer then has to come up with the design ideas for the outside of the fairings and then work with the company to come up with a design that suits them. Most people can only afford to have a custom fairing done once so the design is in many ways like a tattoo, something they will want to give a lot of thought to and something they need to make sure they won’t get tired of or change their minds about at a later date.
Most people choose designs inspired by interests they have such as cars or sport, some create unique and beautiful original artwork and others uses famous artwork by the likes of Banksy.
Whatever people choose the custom fairing is a way of them saying this is me, my prosthetic is a part of me and a part of who I am and something I can be proud of. People like Sarah Reinertsen who have always seen their prosthetic as a negative and something they are stuck with by having a custom design can feel it is something they actually want to display and show off.