North Country Public Radio’s David Sommerstein recently visited the Create office to learn about this new trend in personalized prosthetics. Here’s an excerpt from his story:
Show it, don’t hide it: Lake Placid firm leads new trend in personalized prosthetics
Over the last decade or so, there’s been a revolution in the way amputees relate to their prosthetic limbs, with a steady march from stigma to self-confidence. Prosthetics today are lighter, more comfortable, and customizeable. You can get a prosthetic specifically for running, or skiing, or ice skating.
A new Adirondack business is taking the trend a step further. Create Prosthetics in Lake Placid is using a 3D printer to allow people anywhere in the world to order designer prosthetics, like tattoos for the lost limb crowd.
The back room of Mountain Orthotic and Prosthetic Services, Create’s antecedent, is a Geppetto’s workshop of dust and tools and pressurized molding machines, and all around, prosthetic calves and feet and ankles in various stages of completion. Employee Chris Poulin goops plaster of Paris on one, shaping it to fill in all the low spots to level it all out, “so when we put it in the mold,” he says, “we have a nice beautiful product to sell to people.” A pink paisley-and-butterfly leg brace sits on the work bench. It’s for a little girl with cerebral palsy.
Owner Jeff Erenstone and his team’s been doing this for years, building devices that cater to the medical and aesthetic needs of his clients. He grabs a prosthetic leg from a shelf. “This guy’s actually a prison guard,” Erenstone chuckles. The CO got an illustration of the album cover from Supertramp’s Crime of the Century’ imprinted on the limb.
The trend in prosthetics these days is personalize your limb, don’t hide it. “100% there’s a trend,” explains Erenstone. “Way more people these days want a cool design like this than they want something flesh-colored.”