Prosthetic Cover Marketplace
Improve a customer’s retail experience.
Amputees undergo massive change in their lives. In addition to potential physical pain, they often face loss of independence, impact to self identity, and social stigma or rejection. Cosmetic covers have been shown to alleviate anxiety and promote increased agency over their limb; however, cosmetic covers are not often prescribed and amputees are left to identify and navigate virtual options on their own.
We partnered with a local prosthetics company, Procare Prosthetics & Orthotics, to design an online marketplace that consolidates prosthetic covers of various durabilities, prices, and aesthetics. Additionally, we introduced methods to virtually “try-on” covers to provide greater understanding of the end-product and instill hope earlier in the amputation process.
Ideation, Interviews, Paper Prototyping, UX Design, and Usability Testing
BACKGROUND & LITERATURE REVIEW
Each year, approximately 185,000 people in the United States suffer limb amputations. This number is projected to rise with the increased prevalence of dysvascular conditions, resulting in an estimated 3.6 million amputees by 2050. While the majority of lower-limb amputees opt for the use of a prosthetic, 84 percent of patients felt they lacked choice in the prescription of their initial artificial limb. Given their lack of participation in the acquisition of their device, one method for increasing ownership is altering the appearance of their limb to suit their personal goals and style through prosthetic covers.
MARKET RESEARCH & CONTEXTUAL INTERVIEWS
Until recently, there has been a significant gap in the market for aesthetically pleasing prosthetic covers. However, companies including Alleles, UNYQ, and Arthesis have leveraged advanced technologies to fill this need. While an important development from the amputee community, few of these companies allow direct purchasing, instead requiring the intervention of a prosthetist. Due to
UNYQ | Method: Phone Interview
Speaking with UNYQ, we were able to better understand their business model, while highlighting the impact that their product has on transforming individuals’ perceptions of their amputation. Though testimonials from customers reinforced the mission of the business, they experienced issues in actually selling the product due to the complexity of obtaining accurate measurements and balancing direct-to-customer sales and supplier sales.
Synthesis: Customers felt the impact of the product, but UNYQ had issues generating sales due to product and market complexities.
PROCARE PROSTHETICS & ORTHOTICS | Method: In-Person Interview
Given the market tension for determining the appropriate sales channel, we next spoke with one of UNYQ’s suppliers, ProCare Prosthetics & Orthotics. Similar to UNYQ’s customers, the team at ProCare was supportive of UNYQ’s vision, but noted that these products were not sold in high volume through their office. They cited a lack of interest as the primary reason for low sales, but stated that price was truly the dominant consideration throughout the prosthetic acquisition process. While discouraging about potential sales, an anecdote regarding how a consultation with the founder of ProCare changed a patient’s life by stating that he was the first person in six months who had given them any hope for their future beyond the amputation. This idea of envisioning hope for their amputation gave us the idea to expand the visualization aspect of our ideas.
Synthesis: Prosthetic covers help amputees better reflect their individual style, but high costs and lack of information cause customers to overlook the product. Given this potential impact, however, we want to allow customers to visualize their options earlier in the amputation process.
END USER | Method: In-Person Interview
Given that this product was for amputees, we wanted to understand the experience from an end-user’s perspective. We were fortunate enough to find an orthotics student who is also an amputee. After understanding his psychological state during the amputation process, we received feedback regarding our project goals. His response was very positive, stating:
“I think it’s going to be uplifting to know that there are options out there… I was sitting in the hospital. They didn’t tell me where to get prosthetic leg. I didn’t have anybody to talk to… So I think that knowing that options are out there, I think would be really good, even in the early stages.” -
The above highlight a small portion of the research methods employed, full methods are:
Review of amputee and prosthetics statistics
Review of literature regarding amputation and current practices
Review of phenomenological studies of amputee experience
Observations & Interviews
Observation of online amputee support group
Phone Interview with UNYQ, a prosthetic fabricator
In-person Interview with ProCare, a prosthetic care provider
In-person Interview with End-User
Thematic analysis of UNYQ blog posts and testimonials
Task analysis of the UNYQ website
Task analysis of the UNYQ mobile app
Task analysis of comparable fabricators