A prosthetic ballet leg, allowing amputees to perform ballet like never before, has been created by Jae-Hyun An, a Pratt Institute graduate.
The Marie-T: prosthetic ballet leg for amputees
Branded as Marie-T (named after 19th-century Swedish ballet dancer Marie Taglioni), the artificial limb is designed to enhance the performance of amputee ballet dancers, rather than mimic the human body as regular artificial limbs do.
Incorporating 3D printing, the Marie-T features a weighty foam-injected rotational moulded foot, with a stainless steel toe and rubber grip to help a dancer’s balance and momentum during rotations.
But An’s carbon-fibre Marie-T provides amputee dancers more than the ability to balance and rotate. The artificial limb enables amputees to dance in a way that other dancers cannot. When a ballet dancer moves in and out of the pointe position, all of the dancer’s body weight is supported by the tips of their fully extended foot creating significant strain on the foot and ankle of the dancer.
Understandably, it is impossible for a ballet dancer to constantly perform in the pointe position. However, An’s design enables amputees to dance on pointe throughout a performance.
Comfort of the prosthetic limb
As ill-fitting prosthetic limbs can cause blisters and rashes on dancers, An designed the Marie-T so that parts can be replaced easily as and when they become worn, or need to be resized.
Jae-Hyun An said:
“It is inspiring because the technology is incredible but even more so because of the immense struggle an amputee has to overcome to use these products. Some argue that some of these prostheses give amputees a certain advantage in specific tasks, but I am not sure they would say the same if they ever saw how much training and care it takes to handle a prosthesis”.
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