The Art in Prosthetics


There’s an unfortunate stigma surrounding medical conditions, and those afflicted can feel a sense of shame or isolation as a result of any visible perceived medical condition that requires them to wear or carry around equipment or devices.

In order to address the stigma and break down the social barriers in order to encourage positive dialogue about the human body and difference, special-effects prosthetics specialist Sophie de Oliveria Barata creates prosthetic limbs that look like they appear out of a fantasy or sci-fi movie.

The Alternative Limb Project, or Art Limb Pro, was founded in 2011 and works with amputees to create pieces that reflet the client’s imagination, personality, and interests through their limbs.


It’s important to consider the stigma that surrounds certain medical conditions and how to be careful in acknowledging that when designing medical devices that lend a certain visibility into someone’s condition.

This artist does an interesting job in making these prosthetics very visually appealing and interesting as to grab the attention of a viewer rather than hide away from it. The means of making the prosthetic with the wearer adds on a more deeper sense, and the act helps to address how the wearer interprets perceptions by others.

For the Neurolife sleeve, the consideration of perceived stigma is important as it may be a deterrent for wear outside of the home (if the sleeve is to be worn at any time outside). The addition of factors such as an elevated sense of aesthetics is interesting to consider, but I think that the customization aspect of someone helping a wearer design the sleeve to personalize it is key.

From a previous reading about system design, there was the mention of authentic understanding that should be established between the two parties. I think that the potential addition of a system or service in which the sleeve is personalized for a user will enhance the overall experience of the sleeve itself.

As such, while the aesthetics of the sleeve may be important, the means of personalizing it to a user’s taste and choice elevates the sleeve to another level.