A Summertime Tour of New Prosthetic Designs

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Feeling like a kid at the amusement park. Photo: Judy Berna

Ahhh, summertime! For most people the arrival of the summer months means the kids will be out of school, the family may try to pull off a vacation, and the dresser drawers will be emptied of  jeans and sweatshirts, and filled with shorts and tank tops. The summer months can mean something unique to my friends in the amputee world. In most of my posts about my own prosthetic leg, I try to help you see just how normal my life can be. But there are times when having a prosthetic limb can bring up unique issues. Summertime is one of those times.

I chose my amputation. This hard plastic leg I wear every day works much better than the worn out flesh and bone version I dragged around for too many years. I’ve always been proud to show it off. From the first day I wore shorts with my new limb, way back in 2004, I didn’t care if people did a double take when I walked by. My new leg gave me my life back and I loved everything it stood for.

Not many of my amputee friends got to choose their limbless life. Some were born missing limbs and some lost them while fighting terrible diseases. Some had their lives changed after a car or motorcycle accident. Although we are becoming more common, the demographic of “elective amputees” is not a large one.

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It was a good year to wear a Seattle Seahawks leg! Photo: Judy Berna

When it’s time to put on the shorts or swimming suit, and there are body parts missing, life can become intimidating. Something as simple as enjoying a day on the beach with your toddler can be a logistical hardship and do some serious damage to a person’s self-confidence.

Online amputee communities and local support groups help. A lot. It’s been exciting for me to see the changes that have been made in amputee perceptions, in the short ten years I’ve been in the club. Last year, the national amputee organization, The Amputee Coalition of America, declared a “Show Your Mettle” Day on April 27th. Its purpose was to help amputees step out of the shadows. The word mettle, meaning dealing well with difficulties, paired with its homonym that called to mind the metal found in prosthetic limbs, came together to produce a day where amputees could wear their shorts, and show off their limbs, proudly.

Because I’ve lived in many different states through my grown-up years, I’ve picked up a lot of great friends along the way. These are the people who cheered me on and made me able to be proud of showing off my leg. On a very regular basis I am sent links to articles they’ve found online, about all things related to prosthetics. They know I’m interested in the topic, because I live it, and that I’m excited to share my world with our GeekMom readers. I’ve learned about several very innovative new companies that are making prosthetic limbs unique and exciting. Now that we don’t have to hide them anymore, we’ve decided we’d like them to represent our personalities and character.

In the next few weeks I’d love to share with you some of the designs these companies are producing. I had thought about cramming them all into one big post, but once I started digging into each company, I realized that several of them needed their own post, just to cover all the exceptional projects they’re working on. Last summer I showed you how being able to laminate different designs on a socket opened up a lot of fun options for amputees of every age. These new ideas go even further than that.

So keep us on your favorite blogs list and stay in touch with GeekMom. I think you’ll join me in being amazed at what is happening in the world of prosthetics. If you’ve seen some companies that inspired you, feel free to send me the link, either to my personal email or in the comments section below. I look forward to taking you with me on this tour of new prosthetic art.

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