Gone are the days of prosthetics-without-pizzazz, when drab shades of beige were the only options available to conceal their metal and plastic pieces. Today, prosthetic limbs can be fashioned in a multitude of hues — including hot pink, which happens to be 5-year-old Emmy Hoffman's favorite color.
Hoffman was born with a rare condition called Symbrachydactyly, which caused her to be missing fingers on her right hand.
Like most 5-year-olds, she spent a lot of time learning to ride a bike and playing with scooters outside. But, unlike her peers, Hoffman had to learn how to do these things using only one hand. Simple tasks, like an opening a jar, seemed almost impossible.
This all changed in March when a pink-bow-wearing Hoffman was fitted for her 3-D prosthetic hand by Ability Prosthetics and Orthotics in Pennsylvania. Since receiving the hand, Hoffman has been practicing riding her bike and trying to hold objects — especially her favorite stuffed animals.
Besides matching her outfits and giving her increased mobility and dexterity, the pink hand (which was also engraved with her name and hearts) has blended with her outgoing personality.
"Emmy loves bright and bold colors, especially hot pink," her mother Jocelyn said in an email. "It's important for her to have something unique because she is unique. She's her own person."
The eye-catching hand has made her more confident and willing to educate other children about her condition. "Its color makes it cool," Jocelyn said. "She is showing off her hand to anyone who will listen. I've seen her confidence grow and she's very proud of it."
With an assortment of companies — like Alleles and UNYQ — making fashionable prosthetics, people are now able to buy custom versions that don't try to hide their disabilities (like with skin-colored ones) or stifle their personas. But unlike these products, which can cost upward of $1,000, Hoffman's parents will only have to pay a few hundred for her hand.
Eric Shoemaker, the certified prosthetist and orthotist who worked with Hoffman, explained in an email that he has even been able to incorporate original artwork and tattoos on the 3-D-printed prosthetics.
Besides gabbing about her hand with all those around her, Hoffman and her mom wrote a book entitled "Emmy's Amazing Hand" for those with similar disabilities and to teach other young children that kids who are different are just like them.
"Since Emmy is only 5, it's hard for her to put into words what she would tell others," Jocelyn said. "However, as her mom, I see a brand new confidence and I think she would tell others to be proud of their prosthetic."