Shreveport business turns artificial limbs into art

Shreveport business turns artificial limbs into art
Derick Wilson prepares to demonstrate the SteamPunk prosthesis.
Derick Wilson prepares to demonstrate the SteamPunk prosthesis.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A Shreveport prosthetist is turning artificial limbs into affordable and functional art, and his work has gone viral.

It's the kind of work Derick Wilson was seeking when he came to Snell's Limbs and Braces in 1997.

"I made my first one at home in, in the backyard, and I wore that for four years," he said. "Then, my sister convinced me to come down to Shreveport to get one made."

He loved how light and comfortable his new prosthetic was. Four months later, he found himself working for the family-owned business.

Wilson said he wants to have a prosthetic that he can be proud of.

"I'm not shy about the fact that I'm an amputee," he said. "I want somebody to look, I want them to ask me who made that."

Christopher Snell's great-grandfather started Snell's Limbs and Braces over 100 years ago. Since Snell entered the family business, he felt some things in the industry needed to change when it comes to the look of prostheses. "Some of them seemed to be lacking. I mean, there was always the single colors, black, white, pink, red. But I always thought they needed a little bit more."

He went to work creating low-cost ways for people in need to personalize their prostheses in ways that makes them feel comfortable with their new extensions. It was the tireless hours he put into the "SteamPunk" implementation and design, however, that turned the average into a complete work of art.

Snell posted a video to YouTube of his design that went viral in less that 24 hours.

When asked what is the most rewarding part of his job, Snell said that seeing the satisfaction on his patient's faces with their new prosthesis, and having them be able to walk out the door is the most wonderful feeling.

Wilson adds that being able to relate with patients is one of the most rewarding feelings for him. He wants people in this situation to know that they are not alone when they are facing the loss of a limb, and Snell's is there to help them throughout the process.

Snell is currently working on another design that is called the NeoPixel Prosthesis. It lights up and reacts to sound.

Copyright 2014 KSLA. All rights reserved.