SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — The loss of a limb through an accident, illness or conflict can be devastating, but many people regain their mobility by using artificial, or prosthetic, limbs. An amputee is adding color to the lives of other amputees through a company he started that decorates prosthetics.
Pete Nichols loves his flashy car, with its bright red paint and racing stripes, chrome wheels and accessories. After he lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident three years ago, he wanted a prosthetic that was just as flashy. His artificial leg is a brilliant chrome.
“I love lots of color and I love chrome," said Nichols..
An online search took him to Dan Horkey, another Seattle amputee who had started a company called ProstheticInk.com. Dan had also lost his leg in a traffic accident, and decided to add some color to colorless prosthetics.
He added fiery flames to the first.
“It kind of reminded me of the aftermath of my accident, sitting in the hospital and the pain I felt in my leg after they chopped it off," said Horkey.
He uses local artists to decorate the prosthetic arms, legs, and braces, offering a range of colors and designs.
“We have people that want Superman," he said. "We have requests that are really just unique to the wearer sometime, so that is what is really cool about it. It is all about personalizing their limb.”
Some customers are military veterans, including those wounded in combat, and a five-year-old boy about to start kindergarten in Boulder, Colorado.
The colorful prosthetics attract attention and start conversations, says customer Pete Nichols. He prefers his simple chrome finish, but admires other prosthetics decorated with eagles, military insignia, koi fish or dragons.
“Do not hide it," he said. "Find that color, that art scheme, that one device [image] that is you.”
Dan Horkey says his work has been getting attention across the United States and in other countries.
“England. I have fans in Cambodia that want me to come to their country," he said.
He says amputees are amazed at how a little color and art can boost their confidence.