Prostheses are more than just a tool to enhance function – they strongly influence perceptions of identity and normalcy.
Abstract: This paper is about the aspects of ability, selfhood, and normalcy embodied in people’s relationships with prostheses. Drawing on interviews with 14 individuals with upper-limb loss and diverse experiences with prostheses, we find people not only choose to use and not use prosthesis throughout their lives but also form close and complex relationships with them. The design of “assistive” technology often focuses on enhancing function; however, we found that prostheses played important roles in people’s development of identity and sense of normalcy. Even when a prosthesis failed functionally, such as was the case with 3D-printed prostheses created by an on-line open-source maker community (e-NABLE), we found people still praised the design and initiative because of the positive impacts on popular culture, identity, and community building. This work surfaces crucial questions about the role of design interventions in identity production, the promise of maker communities for accelerating innovation, and a broader definition of “assistive” technology.
Congratulations to one of our collaborators, Ivan Owen from UW Bothell, for being selected as one of the top nominees for the Washington Access Fund 2015 Innovation Award! Ivan was one of the original co-creators for the 3D-printed prosthetic hand and released the designs open-source which has led to the formation of the global Enable movement.
The Ability & Innovation Lab took a trip to Seattle Pacific University this morning to meet up with Adam Arabian’s lab. Both teams share a passion for open-source, 3D printed prosthetic and orthotic devices and discussed future potential collaborations.
Today we hosted a prototyping challenge at the CoMotion Makerspace with some of our partners from Seattle Pacific University. The focus of today’s challenge was to both introduce our new lab members to low-resolution prototyping and improve the design of our affordable hand exoskeleton for individuals with impaired hand function.
Individuals who have had a stroke or neurologic injury commonly lose the ability to open their hand. Physical and occupational therapy are the most common treatments and can lead to improvements in hand function with prolonged, focused practice. Exoskeletons and other robotic technology has been introduced, but these systems are typically expensive, bulky, and can only be used in the clinical environment. In this prototyping challenge, you will build and test low-resolution prototypes to explore how we might safely, comfortable, and affordably help to open the hand for individuals with neurologic disorders.
The group came up with some great ideas and designs (and some spectacular failures with important lessons). If you would like to try this prototyping challenge yourself, grab some prototyping supplies and work through our GUIDE.