I’m back! A few weeks ago I told you about a series I’d be doing for GeekMom, showcasing some of the interesting new options in prosthetic design companies. BeSpoke was the first company I told you about.
BeSpoke makes custom fairings, which are solid coverings that ‘snap’ over the top of prosthetic sockets. With the use of 3D printers, the sky is virtually the limit when it comes to designs. Because each fairing is custom made, BeSpoke products are a bit pricey, although they are definitely worth the money if you can afford it. With most amputees barely able to pay for the basic leg socket to begin with, something that is purely cosmetic doesn’t usually make the priority list.
This is where UNYQ steps in. As it turns out, Eythor Bender, the founder of UNYQ, is friends with Scott Summit, the founder of BeSpoke. They both had very similar visions when it came to changing the look of prosthetic limbs. Making a product that used the exact shape of the sound limb as it’s pattern, then adding artistic designs to fit an individual’s style, was their goal.
Because Scott Summit and his company have many other projects in development, he found he couldn’t keep up with the fairing side of his business. Instead of suing Bender, when his ideas and designs started to mimic Summit’s, he embraced the new company as a way to get the product to the audience that was waiting for it.
It just makes sense that Eythor Bender is also the guy who was the president of Ossur, one of the largest prosthetic companies in the world, during the years that the Cheetah running leg came on the market. You’ve seen this bladed “foot” on professional athletes, and now most of my amputee friends who are casual runners have one too. He’s always been inspired to make prosthetic limbs that change the lives of amputees.
The UNYQ company can do custom fairings, just like BeSpoke. They will scan an amputee’s sound leg, then load the information into their 3D printer. Having both limbs match is more important to many people than you realize. Even if my socket is a crazy color, if it’s the exact shape of my other calf, it will rarely draw attention. Amputees with fairings also report that their pants fit better and feel more like they did before they lost their limb. There is no more gap or empty spot where their calf used to be.
Each client can then design their own fairing, to reflect their interests. They choose from different textures and materials, as well as colors and cut outs. And like BeSpoke, a custom fairing will cost several thousand dollars.
But the UNYQ company wanted their products to be available to as many amputees as possible. They began taking some of their most popular designs and making several copies. They made designs for men, women, and children. They discovered that most amputees just love the idea of having a custom-looking prosthetic cover, even if they didn’t design it themselves.
This brought the price way down, by as much as 50%. Their stock fairings start at $495.00 and generally top out at about a thousand dollars. This option is great for kids. Any basketball-loving kid will love their kid’s basketball design, whether they designed it themselves or not. Any girly girl will love the feminine options right “off the rack”.
The thing I love about this company, and those like it, is a theme I’ve written about before here on GeekMom. Amputees are no longer embarrassed by their hardware. We no longer feel the need to hide our disability. In the past decade we’ve moved into an era that has empowered us and not only brought us proudly into the public, but encouraged us to go a step further and design an artificial limb that represents who we are.
Until the idea of fairings came along, those of us decorating our sockets used stickers or knit covers. For years I’ve had the Seahawks football team logo laminated on my leg. I proudly wear shorts, even in the winter, so I can show off my leg. But there are times that I’d like to tone it down, just a bit, for dressy occasions especially. Because the socket is laminated, that means I’d have to have a whole new socket made.
With fairings, I can click the cover over my existing socket, and wear it whenever I want. Most attach with a few screws. This also means, that as the prices come down in the future, an amputee could technically have an assortment of fairings lining the bottom of their closet, as unique and individual as a shoe collector’s closet.
As crazy as it sounds, it’s a good time to be an amputee. If life circumstances have handed you this specific card, it’s no longer a straight line to depression and hiding out at home. As the public comes to understand and accept amputees in the community, and even become fascinated with our hardware, it changes the future for those of us with limbs that click onto our bodies.
In my next post I’ll tell you about yet another company that is getting into the fairings game, and show you some more inspiring designs they are creating. Until then, try not to be too jealous of those of us with custom limbs. You can always express your design style in the sneakers you choose to wear.
(All photos in gallery belong to UNYQ)