Monday 2 May 2016

Future Prosthetics Are Here


Tailored Prosthetics – Alternative Limb Project

When one of the clients, an ex-serviceman Ryan Seary had lost part of his left leg and left arm, while clearing mines in Afghanistan, he had felt psychologically prepared for amputation due to his military training. Sophie de Oliveira Barata creates tailored prosthetics through the Alternative Limb Project which, while they are functional and beautiful, tends to make a great impact on the lives of the wearer.

She had informed the audience at Wired Health 2015 that it was everything that came next which proved most challenging. She adds that early on in rehab, his physio got touch with her informing her that he had this guy and was wrapping fur around his leg and didn’t know what to do with him.

 He told Oliveira Barata that he wanted something cool-looking, three dimensional and removable, in case it did not suit the occasion. He also wanted to look down and see his toes again. Seary was wearing a common model with a microprocessor in the knee, though had already painted the `nails’ to personalise it by the time the London-based designer had met him.

Breaking Down Barriers & Boundaries

It had this horrible looking footshell where the toes were replaced with silicone, matching all the various skin tones by building the silicone one layer on top of the other. The nails were handmade and hairs from the back of the neck was utilised on the toes, making it realistic. The muscle plates had been modelled using 3D programmer Rhino and worked like a clip cover.

The design had been inspired by whale bones, trees, shells and the ocean with knots of trees that worked into the joints. But it was what occurred once he had donned the striking product in public that proved to Barata that her work could show unexpected effects. People had been coming up to him, stating that it was really interesting and how was it made.

They could not believe that the carefully crafted silicone foot was not real and wanted to know how it functioned. It was breaking down barriers and boundaries.

Extension of Personalities

Most of the clients that de Oliveira Barata tends to work with, seems to have a strong idea of what they need from their prosthetic. As with fashion for several people, it tends to become an extension of their personalities.Model victoria Modesta had donned some of the striking designs ranging from black lacquered spike to a white silicone design fixed with LED lights.

De Oliveira Barata commented that `she expressed her individualism and her progressiveness through her prosthetic and for her it was the ultimate power dressing and the spike leg was her dream. Veronika Pete, another client, desired to close the gap between her thigh and the bottom of her leg but when it was not possible, de Oliveira Barata had opened up the space in the knee socket to introduce a kind of turbine engine. She had also introduced secret compartments, crystallised designs and more to her line of fantastic limbs, fingers and toes. She stated that it tends to change everything and one is very much in control of the process.

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