Man Hands

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Female amputees and their struggle with living in a man’s world: yet another example illustrating the need for more user-centered design.

“A female prosthetist, they understand why it’s a big deal to make sure that you have something that’s not as bulky, something that’s slimmer that will work for skinny jeans,” Lacey said. “I think that men don’t [always] understand that about fashion choices and why that’s important, and a part of your identity and still feeling feminine and not disabled.”

Havlik agrees, saying that she’ll spend time trying to slim a prosthetic down by as little as an eighth of an inch. “Men in general can sometimes see a female patient as being irritating and too concerned about cosmetic looks, and really not take them seriously,” she said. “I really care what it looks like, I know that that eighth of an inch would really bother me.”

Once they’ve found a prosthetist, women then have to deal with the devices out there. And those devices are designed, almost always, for men first. Smaller, lighter arms and legs are a secondary design challenge for manufacturers, a perk added on after the original design is complete. Scout Bassett, an amputee athlete who works with Ossur, faces particularly unique challenges as a very tiny woman (she’s only 4’8”) but she said that even taller women have struggled.