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Amputees Swim with the 3D Printed Prosthetic Leg

Today, thanks to the 3D printing technology, so many advances have been made for functional prosthetics. Unfortunately, all 3D printed prosthetic only focus on arms and hands, but none focus on leg prosthetics. Designing a leg prosthetics has so many complicated factors, like balance, practical functionality, and strength involved in the design. There is a large need for 3D printed leg prosthetics because in the U.S. alone, there are 1.8 million people who live without a leg. 

The new Elle prosthetic leg was developed by Della Tosin, an Indonesian born, LA-based product designer, who developed a new prosthetic leg and swimwear. The new 3D printed prosthetic was designed to give amputees the ability to maximize their swimming experience. The new design aims at maximizing energy from launch off, balancing, flip-turns, and supports the body. The new wearable suit will now allow single-leg swimmers to compete with double-leg swimmers. 

Della Tosin was inspired by her love for swimming and the knowledge of what a swimmer wants and truly needs. Water gravity helps amputees to exercise, improves cardiovascular health, helps the body to release endorphins, and resistance. The amputees miss this advantage of exercise because they can’t swim in a streamlined position. 

When swimming, the human leg has a specific density and volume that attributes to balance. When a person looses a leg the result is imbalanced buoyancy from unequal upward water pressure between the right and left side of the body. A competitive swimmer undergoes three different phases when swimming: launching off, swimming, and flip turns. Each separate phase requires a different energy release to perform. A swimmer needs a rigorous physical exertion to maintain consistency in the water. The new Elle suit makes it possible for amputees to maintain endurance by supporting their thighs, hips, and back like a two legged swimmer. 

Della worked with three different people when she was developing her prosthesis. She worked closely with Rose, a single-leg swimmer to gain insight through observing Rose swim. Afterwards, Della created three prototyping models before a successful and workable prosthetic was developed that allowed Rose to successfully swim. 

The new swimwear has many advantages for prosthetic users. The new swimming prosthetic mimics the shape of a foot, has an adjustable air chamber that allows the wearer to adjust their buoyancy and position in the water. Furthermore, it has a special mechanism to help the swimmer launch them selves through the water. The new suit is customized for each person with an amputation and the shape of the leg it replaces. The prosthetic has a flexed ankle that is adjustable to the swimmers strength. The Elle custom makes the socket for the leg to fit securely and be comfortable.

For now the swimmer prosthetic is only a prototype, but Tosin is looking for the right manufactureer to produce these limbs. Afterwards, the product will help people around the world. This is a thoughtful, inspiring, and promising creation that would bring new hope to amputees around the globe.


Julie Sinclair

Julie Sinclair

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