Out on a limb: designer prosthetics are changing lives

  • Ryan Seary, ex-serviceman (explosive ordnance disposal, Afghanistan). Photograph by Omkaar Kotedia
  • Ryan Seary, ex-serviceman (explosive ordnance disposal, Afghanistan). Photograph by Omkaar Kotedia
  • Viktoria Modesta Moskalova, Singer/songwriter, performing artist and self-confessed fashionista. Photograph by Jon Enoch
  • Kiera Roche, Chairperson for Limb Power (charity). Photograph by Rosemary Williams
Date:22 May 2013 Tags:, , , ,

Losing a limb is obviously a traumatic experience. Learning to live without that limb can be equally stressful, both physically and emotionally: think months or years of physiotherapy, agonies of self-confidence, and myriad other challenges that most of us cannot begin to imagine.

Sophie de Oliveira Barata is director of The Alternative Limb Project, a specialist consultancy that works with amputees and their prosthetists to create bespoke and visually compelling artificial limbs, often calling on the skills of other artists to explore novel concepts – or as Sophie terms them, “alternatives”. As she explains it, the idea is not only to delight the eye, but also to help to break down social barriers and encourage a positive dialogue about the human body and difference.

The Alternative Limb Project was born a few years ago while Sophie was working for a leading clinic that made amazingly realistic prostheses – they featured veins, freckles and even skin blemishes – for amputees. It occurred to her that if she were an amputee herself, she would probably seek to accentuate her difference rather than try to blend in by donning a realistic-looking prosthesis.

Read more in PM’s June 2013 issue – on sale 20 May.