How Art Transforms Tragedy: Beautiful and Functional Prosthetic Legs Can Bring Hope to Diabetic Amputees

For many weeks now, we’ve chronicled the problem of diabetic foot infections, ulcers, and amputations. It can be a deeply troubling topic, especially if you have diabetes and are already on the lookout for foot wounds. So this week we thought we’d bring you something a little  more uplifting — a story about alternative prosthetic limbs that are blurring the line between art and medical science.

diabetic prosthetics

Bespoke Innovations out of San Francisco is breaking new ground with their line of unique prosthetics.
This leg belongs to athlete Sarah Reinertsen. Image Source: CNN.com

Are Prosthetics “Art”?

It’s hard not to gawk at Sophie de Oliveira Barata’s line of prosthetic legs. San Francisco’s Bespoke Innovations specializes in customized limbs that are futuristic, eye-catching, and even beautiful. “After losing a limb, a person isn’t the same,” de Oliveira Barata explained. “So this is a form of expression, an empowerment, a celebration. It’s their choice of how to complete their body — whether that means having a realistic match or something from an unexplored imagination.”

There will always be a market for realistic limbs that blend in with the crowd seamlessly and offer more natural movements than one would expect. Yet, there is also a growing market for fun prosthetic limbs that people can wear out for special occasions to show that they are confident and unashamed.

What Do Alternative Prosthetic Legs Look Like?

Kiera Roche, a young woman who was involved in a motorcycle accident in France, opted for a floral leg. “I think what my traumatic experience did was make me want to do those things I wasn’t sure I could do. It makes you want to push the boundaries,” she told the NY TimesShe added that having a specially crafted limb made her feel “special and worthy.”

floral prosthetic

Kiera Roche wears a floral leg fitted at ProActive Prosthetics.
Image Source: TheAlternativeLimbProject.com

Singer / model Viktoria Modesta lost her leg below the knee as the result of health problems when she was a teenager. At the London Paralympics closing ceremony, she chose to wear the Swarovski crystal leg pictured below. “Being a self-confessed fashionista, things that I’m into tend to change all the time, and like most key pieces in my wardrobe, I would only wear it a number of times,” she said. “The first time I wore a limb that was so obviously bionic, it gave me a total sense of uniqueness and feeling mutant human in the best way possible.”

alternative limb

This crystallized leg, photographed by Omkaar Kotedia, is one person’s idea of beauty.
Image Source: TheAlternativeLimbProject.com

Unfortunately, these designer limbs carry high fashion price tags, ranging from $4,600 to $21,000. Currently, insurance companies only fund realistic-looking or robotic-looking limbs, but it’s the company’s hope that the value of alternative limbs will be realized one day. In some cases, sponsors, employers, or legal settlements have covered the cost of alternative prosthetic limbs.

Prevention is the Best Cure

These interesting new limbs are welcome news for diabetic amputees who are still coming to terms with their new identities. If you have not suffered the loss of a limb, then remember: prevention is the best cure for a diabetic foot ulcer. Consider using a SteriShoe UV shoe sanitizer daily to remove infection-causing microbes from your shoes! The design isn’t quite as artsy as these limbs, but it is clinically proven to be effective in killing off pathogens!

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