Not every woman likes to wear high heels but not having the option to do so has increased female amputees distress about their condition. Since 2000, over 1,800 female veterans who have undergone amputations have received services from the Veteran’s Administration. But, until recently the women had no other option than to wear ‘practical’ shoes. Many of the women miss the ability to ‘dress up’.
Five engineers from John’s Hopkins have been working on the issue and, with the advice of prosthetists from Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, feel that they have come up with a solution.
“We just want to make quality of life better for veterans,” said Luke Brown, a member of the team.
The device they created is named ‘Prominence’ and although it is not the first of its kind on the market it is considered the most ‘versatile and advanced to date’. l The device can support heels up to 4 inches.
“High heels have become an integral part of the female lifestyle in modern society, permeating through all aspects of life – professional and social,” wrote the five students who graduated earlier this month from the university’s Whiting School of Engineering in their final project report. “For female veterans of the U.S. armed services with lower limb amputations, that seemingly innocuous, but so pervasive, and decidedly feminine part of their lives is gone.”
“Enhancing mobility for injured soldiers is a top priority”, said Dave Laufer, director of Orthotic and Prosthetic Service at Walter Reed.
Of course, injured veterans are not the only group of women that the new device will help. Women who suffered amputations due to bone cancer or diabetes will also have the option to ‘dress up’ with the new device. Depending on the market reaction and demand the students will decide ‘prominence’ will be patented.
And even though the device will be available for amputees, Dan Ignaszewski, Director of Government Relations and Marketing at the Amputee Coalition, said, “Just because someone wants to wear five-inch heels doesn’t mean one can or should based on their medical condition. It might be difficult for them to be mobile in a heel. You have to look at things like balance and if the person can walk comfortably. All that is best determined working with a medical team.”
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