What it does
Lytra is an affordable prosthetic leg that allows below knee amputees to take shower freely and clean their residual limb safely. Lytra allows the bottom of the limb to be exposed in air for amputees to get a full-decent wash in the shower.
Phil, a 77-year-old Below-Knee (Trans-Tibial) amputee inspired me to realize that there are 185,000 new lower extremity amputations occur in the United States each year. More than a half of these are on people aged 50 and over. None of them can take shower as they wish. Due to its metal components, prosthesis that amputees wear everyday can not be carried with them to shower. So some of them jump or crawl to get showered, the rest of them, choose to avoid taking shower. By not taking shower the wound is gets worse. If they fail to adequately wash their residual limb, bacteria will infect the wound, even result in further amputation.
How it works
With the support from Lytra, users are able to place their hands on the back piece for support and pull the residual limb out. So the bottom of the limb is exposed to get a full, decent wash. Lytra is a prosthetic leg made from acrylic sheets. The sheeted acrylic is moulded into certain curvatures and assembled together to gain incredible strength as a unity. When the force applied downwards from the limb, Lytra’s structure is able to distribute it evenly. Lytra is a modular design that meets universal needs. It comes with different sizes and different heights. It has a socket to fit with variant diameter of residual limbs. The height of the socket can be adjusted accordingly to the level of amputation. The socket is interchangeable for hygiene purpose. It has silicone gel bottom to provide a soft and comfortable support to the residual limb.
After interviewing some amputees, I realized that some basic day to day life tasks like showering can be extra difficult to them. Some of them are seeking for the best ways to take shower and clean their limbs online. However, there is no such ‘universal way’ in existence to solve their problem, since they all have different levels of amputations. The challenge was to design a product that doesn't even exist on the market. Working with prosthetists helped me to understand my design scope clearly as well as provided me comprehensive knowledge in the prosthesis field. During concept development phase, I started with sketching down some solutions that help to solve my hypothesis. Then I built mock-ups and asked amputees to try them on and give me feedback. And that valuable feedback eventually became insight that fed into new sketches which were more feasible. This ongoing process was carried throughout the whole project until it solves user's problem.
How it is different
Even though there are some waterproof prosthetic legs on the market, the cost is very high. To customize a lower extremity prosthesis can range in cost from $5,000 to $50,000 depending on needs. Amputees are barely willing to purchase an extra one only for shower. Lytra re-innovates the way that prosthesis are fabricated. Lytra skips the hassle process of custom building which induce huge amount of expense. It consists of three moulded acrylic parts that can be manufactured in a large scale of production. By its modular nature, Lytra comes with a wide variety of parts that can be selected by user and purchased from retailer/clinic right-away. Unlike some prosthesis that has ice-cold metal looking or trying to mimic real limbs, Lytra is a prosthesis that stands out with its own aesthetics. It has pure white body and organic form that celebrates the beauty of being hygienic and healthy.
My future plan for this project is to work with engineers to bring Lytra alive on the market. There are approximately 185,000 lower extremity amputations in the United States each year. There is a huge group of amputees whose lifestyle is keen to be made better. I am imagining Lytra's distribution channels would be through prosthetist, Amputee Coalition, online stores, clinics and retailer. Ultimately, Lytra is not only a structure to overcome some physical obstacles, but also a body extension that have emotional attachments for amputees to rely on everyday.