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The Future of Prosthetics

It used to be that prosthetic limbs and style had little to do with one another.

Sure, there was that one time designer Alexander McQueen had Paralympic athlete Aimee Mullins walk in his 1999 fashion show wearing prosthetic legs made from beautifully carved elm wood. But save for that memorable moment, prosthetic limbs have typically had as much style as orthopedic shoes, sheathed in beige fabric to cover the metal and plastic parts within.

They lacked originality, they lacked flair and they certainly didn’t reflect the wearer’s personality.

Creating “fairings” people can actually afford: Artists and innovators are using prosthetic covers, commonly called “fairings,” to turn the industry into an art form. The covers above have been designed by Alleles Design Studio, which was founded in 2013 by Canadian artists Ryan Palibroda and McCauley Wanner. The pair were first inspired to get into prosthetic design after Wanner discovered the lack of options for prosthetic users.

“I looked at the cosmetic options for people and it was really shameful,” Wanner told Mic. The products were “all bone-colored and really expensive, and not something that someone would look forward to buying or wearing.”

Approximately 2 million people in the United States have experienced the loss of a limb, with approximately 185,000 amputation surgeries occurring every year. The cause for the majority of amputations is advanced stages of a vascular disease like diabetes, with trauma and cancer having an impact as well.

According to ABC News, a prosthetic can cost anywhere from $5,000 to a shocking $50,000. There’s a strong likelihood the prosthetic will to be replaced three to five years down the road due to wear and tear.

Palibroda and Wanner wanted to focus on making these sorts of products affordable. Close behind was turning the mechanical mechani-chic.

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