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Prosthetic Limbs Get a Personal Makeover

Bespoke Innovations(NEW YORK) -- Three months after losing a leg to a rare type of bone cancer in November, Tony Phillips needed a prosthetic limb to get on with his recovery.

And while artificial limbs are seldom known for their aesthetic appeal, Phillips wanted to go in a different direction.

"I want the cast to be dark black chrome to look like the Terminator," he said.  "It's going to be great."

To make this sci-fi inspired limb a reality, the 46-year-old freelance writer consulted with Bespoke Innovations, a company founded by an industrial designer and orthopedic surgeon, which seeks to personalize prosthetic legs with custom designs, tailoring them to each customer's needs.

From tribal patterns to metallic designs made with synthetic materials, Bespoke Innovations creates "fairings" that surround an existing prosthesis.  The equipment, which costs between $4,000 and $6,000, fills out what would have been a leg to re-create the body form by using 3-D scanning to capture the unique leg shape.

The San Francisco company's co-founder, Scott Summit, told the Los Angeles Times, "The thought was, if it was beautifully sculpted and crafted, it would change … the way the person actually perceives their own body and, hopefully, it would then change the way society sees amputees."

Now, Phillips said he gets to think in a way that he didn't know was possible when he first found out about his impending amputation.

"These prosthetic limbs are pretty fancy technology that have really advanced in the last 10 years because of what is happening to so many servicemen and women," said Phillips.  "But they've never been a particularly aesthetic object.  I'm grateful to have a product produced that adds a sense of artistry along with anatomical completeness to the picture."

Bespoke's mission is to create an expression of personality and individuality that has never before been possible, according to its website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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