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Showering Made Easy for Below-the-Knee Amputees with the Lytra

    The Lytra is still in the design phase and is not expected to go into production at this time. 

    Showering can be quite daunting due to all the preparations that come with it: from removing your prosthesis or wrapping it in a waterproof cover to setting up the shower area to ensure that you can stand or sit without any trouble. Mastering one’s shower area can be a constant struggle for many amputees. But, thanks to the technology gods, below-the-knee (BKA) amputees will surely rejoice with this revolutionary shower prosthetic leg—Lytra.  

    A below-the-knee amputee can shower and still wash his or her residual limb. Image from James Dyson Award

    Lytra is a soon to be released, affordable prosthetic shower leg that will allow below-the-knee amputees to shower with ease and safety. With its unique design, the Lytra enables the wearer to expose their residual limb for a decent, hassle-free shower.

    The inspiration

    Ziyang Teng, the genius mind behind Lytra, was inspired by a 77-year-old below-the-knee amputee named Phil. He realized that there are close to 200,000 cases of lower amputations in the US each year, comprising mostly of an older demographic. 

    Current prosthetic legs have metal components, making it not recommended to take inside the shower. Unfortunately, most of these individuals find it extremely difficult to shower: they jump, crawl, stay seated, or worse avoid taking a shower altogether. 

    However, one of the most important things to keep in mind to ensure the health of your residual limb clean is to make regular showers an essential part of your routine. Good hygiene prevents small skin issues from becoming overwhelming problems that can prevent you from wearing your prosthesis.

    How does Lytra work?

    The Lytra’s design makes showering easy—the back piece supports the wearer and makes showering easier than before. Crafted from acrylic sheets, the Lytra allows the bottom of the limb to be wholly exposed so it could be thoroughly washed. And the best part? It’s strong enough to hold the wearer’s entire weight as they apply force downwards from the limb.

    The Lytra's modular design allows for a variety of different heights and sizes to accommodate every amputee no matter their shape. The socket is also removable allowing for easier cleaning, and its silicone gel base provides extra comfort to the wearer’s residual limb.

    The journey to the perfect design

    Ziyang Teng interviewed many amputees and found out that performing basic activities can be a difficult task for many. To solve this problem, Teng worked closely with top prosthetists to figure out how to come up with a universal prototype that can help the majority of below-the-knee amputees shower safely and comfortably. After multiple mockups and trials, Teng finally came up with a design that addressed the unique needs of a prosthetic wearer.

    Alternatives to the Lytra are expensive waterproof prosthetic legs which still don't solve many of the common shower issues, such as the cumbersome process of removing your prosthesis to wash your limb. In contrast, the Lytra—made with three-molded acrylic parts—can be produced in bulk, which significantly cuts down on the cost of custom building, while remaining modular in design. 

    Ziyang Teng hopes for the Lytra to be widely distributed into the market. He envisions this not just to be a “structure to overcome some physical obstacles, but to also be a body extension that has emotional attachments for amputees to rely on every day.”

    What do you think of the Lytra? Would you buy one and how much do you think it should cost?