”Prosthetics, Aids & Implants” is a collaborative post. Please see the disclosure page for more information. Always seek advice from a medical professional.
Change is slow, but change is also inevitable. One only has to look at the Olympics, especially the Paralympics, to see how public perception is slowly changing. What used to be quite obscure (Paralympics were hardly televised a few years ago) is now getting the attention it deserves. The public perception of, let’s give it a name, pity has now shifted to one of amazement and respect for what these athletes are able to do despite the hurdles in life they are faced. This, in turn, is causing a whole new generation to grow up with a different mindset to prosthetics, for example, making it not ‘just OK,’ but completely normal to see or have one if that is required.
And commercial sportswear companies, driven by an ethical, social responsibility, are jumping on the bandwagon. You might be a bit cynical about motivations, but no one can deny the significant influence mass media (and advertising) has on public perception. Where there used to be the standard athlete on the posters, window shops, and TV ads, you can now see athletes with prosthetics, oozing the same level of confidence, power, and ambition. It’s great for those athletes to get this kind of recognition (and also sponsorship deals). It’s great for sports in general. Even more so, it’s excellent for humankind and in no small way, it’s helping those in our society that need prosthetics to feel fully accepted.
But it’s not just the commercial sportswear companies that are contributing, it’s also the advancement of technology in general. It wasn’t too long ago that prosthetics were just made to be functional and to mimic body parts as much as possible. Plastics, polycarbonates, resins, and laminates replaced wood and leather in the 90s. Going from relatively heavy and cumbersome objects to light-weight and easy to clean. In most cases, prosthetics were made to look as much as possible as a real arm, leg or hand, and, in most cases, equally failing to do so. This has caused a stigma that we are still trying to shake today.
From Hidden To Pieces to be Displayed
It wasn’t until the new millennium that, partly thanks to the advancement in 3D printing, prosthetics were elevated to technical marvels that shouldn’t be hidden or disguised. Especially when it comes to leg prosthetics, we now see unapologetical blades and fantastic steel constructions that are equally functional as pieces of art. We are even at the point where people wondered if the “blades” weren’t an unfair advantage. This obviously wasn’t the case, but it might just be a matter of time where prosthetics can be an unfair advantage.
Aids & Implants
And in this movement of broader acceptance of the more apparent prosthetics, we see a halo effect on hearing aids and dental implants. With technological progress comes increased pride and elimination of stigma. Researching all the new possibilities of hearing aids or reading a dental implant guide will show how far we’ve come and how much this is (and should be) normalized.
So many advances have been made with prosthetics, aids, and implants. Perception of the need or use of them has changed so much over the last decades. We might be genuinely looking at a world where we can expect that prosthetics and implants are considered an upgrade.