Hand carved cosmetic covers for artificial limbs, worn as standard by many amputees are loved by their wearers, as they attract less attention than the high-tech limbs that they disguise. However, these soft sculptures get chewed up by the limb mechanism in use. Repeated knee bending, donning and doffing compound the damage, so wearers must frequently return to the clinic for replacements. A design change was needed.
A joint project between the University of Strathclyde Department for Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management and Blatchfords was looking to solve these problems, and approached Thread for input.
Thread joined the teams, and helped realise this goal and improve realism and comfort for the wearer.
Through a series of multidisciplinary workshops we identified ways to solve multiple problems that were damaging the carved foam inner and costing the NHS and users time and money.
We considered the users, clinic environment, materials and construction, and made and tested many prototypes. The solutions we helped to implement were simple and very effective at multiplying the life of the foam component.
In the process we identified a way to dramatically improve the realism of cosmeses though the introduction of a kneecap component, and make the cosmesis easily removable by the user for activities, maintenance and battery charging.
The new design has a dramatically increased life, and looks more realistic. It requires a minimum of training and additional components for the prosthetic technician who builds it.
Thread’s in house prototyping allowed rapid iteration and creation of prototypes to test and prove ideas and processes before they were put into trials with prosthetic technicians.
All this leg work can save time and money for users and NHS alike.