July 18, 2013
Here at redOrbit, we have reported on some pretty unusual uses for LEGO bricks. NASA uses them for engineering contests, conservationists have used them to restore ancient Egyptian sarcophagi, and astronauts have built replicas of the ISS in space.
Last week, we learned of probably the most ingenious use of LEGO bricks yet. A 31-year-old amputee from St. Louis, named Christina Stephens, built a stand-in leg to replace her regular prosthetic. The fun part is that it almost works.
A co-worker suggested the idea to Stephens. Her response, “Man, that would be really neat, it would be fun.” So, she went home to try.
So far, Stephens hasn’t perfected her LEGO leg, the foot won’t stay on yet. But that hasn’t stopped her followers from giving support. They have offered supportive comments — “You are truly an amazing woman!” — tips for improvement — “if you had … used some glue” — and the requisite snark — “most people get upset when they walk on a Lego. :)”
The leg took two hours over two day to build out of LEGO bricks Stephens had in her basement. Her mom had collected them from yard sales while Stephens was growing up, and she’s been saving them. “That’s probably a third of my whole collection,” she said. “I have them stored in my basement for fun random projects like this — or for my future children.”
Stephens, who lost her leg this past January when the jack gave way while she was changing the brakes on her car, isn’t prepared to stop here. She’s already planning LEGO Leg 2.0. “I’d probably have to stiffen the pylon part, reinforcing it with steel or carbon fiber or something,” she said.
As a researcher at the University of Washington in St. Louis’s Human Performance Laboratory, Stephens’ day job is to train people how to correctly move in their wheelchairs to avoid injuring their hands or arms. “We work primarily with helping people get more function out of their lives,” she explained.
After her own accident, Stephens decided that her personal and professional experiences could be used as an online resource for families and individuals faced with limb amputation. “I want to help people and inspire people to be more comfortable with their own bodies if they have limb differences,” she told NBC News. To help those folks, and to remove the stigma associated with amputation, she runs the YouTube page, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account as “AmputeeOT.”
Stephens has a sense of humor about her life. On her right calf she has a tattooed question mark with an arrow pointing at her missing left leg.
Image Credit: Christina Stephens via YouTube