Traditional prosthetic design revolves around functionality, aiming to hide and downplay an individual's limb difference as much as possible. This may not only negatively affect the user's desire to wear their prosthetic but may also negatively affect their self-confidence and sense of identity. Expression is a primary way to communicate identity, yet some traditional prosthetics may deny expression, leaving users without an immediate means to express themselves apart from the stigmatizing label of 'disability'. This study examines the ability of art when combined with bionic prosthetic technology to change the perception of disability, empower self confidence in prosthetics users, and increase the functional benefits of prosthetics. To elevate prosthetic technology, future designs must not only excel at functionally but must support increased aesthetic quality and allowance for personal expression. These objectives are examined through a participatory approach to design, where kids become active participants in the customization and design of their own prosthetic arms. Involving the user in the creative process can bring higher positive results in prosthetic functionality, expressed personal identity, emotional engagement, and ownership of the prosthetic. This study reports the results of this exploration by designing and hand painting expressive, customizable sleeves for bionic arms in preparation for a clinical trial beginning with Limbitless Solutions.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Dombrowski, Matthew


Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities


Visual Arts and Design

Degree Program

Studio Art



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date