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.
Our very own Hwan Choi will be giving a presentation on his PhD research at the Co-Motion MakerSpace at the University of Washington. Join us on Tuesday, January 26th 3:30pm-4:30pm to learn more about his research “Optimizing Orthoses”, and how to modify 3D scanned files in Meshmixer in order to make a mechanically driven device for yourself. This event is collaboration with UW’s WOOF3D club. See below for additional details.
Sasha Portnova has been named one of ten 2015 Levinson Emerging Scholar’s! This is a highly competitive program supporting talented and highly motivated undergraduates who want to pursue creative and advanced bioscience and related research. As a Levinson Emerging Scholar, she will receive funding to support her research, including funding to present their findings at a professional conference. The award will support Sasha’s on-going research to improve the design of affordable, 3D-printed orthoses for individuals with spinal cord injury and other neurologic disorders. She will also be presenting this work at the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists in Orlando, March 9-11, 2016.
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 Engineering Innovations in Medicine 2015-2016 Class is underway! This year we have 70 students from mechanical engineering, material science, bioengineering, electrical engineering, and rehabilitation medicine pursuing 15 projects. We have an outstanding team of clinical and industry mentors who inspired these projects and will be working with the teams throughout the year.
In the first two weeks of classes students have completed a prototyping challenge, toured the Institute for Simulation in Surgery at UW hospital, dived into needs finding, and met with their mentors to launch each project. We are excited to see what everyone creates this year!