This Lego Prosthetic Arm Helps Make Sure 'Everything Is Awesome' for Kids With Disabilities

Lego is a pretty great toy to begin with. But, to quote a certain movie, "everything is awesome" when a clever designer used Lego components to make "Iko": the ultimate prosthetic arm for children missing a hand or forearm.

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Carlos Arturo Torres is a Colombian designer working in Chicago who came up with the idea to combine Lego and prosthetics while working in the Lego company's experimental research department, the "Future Lab" (which sounds, based on the name alone, like it's one of the coolest jobs in the world).

Lego sent Torres on a trip back to Colombia for him to observe children using prosthetic devices at Cirec, a rehabilitation center in the city of Bogotá. There, Torres observed an 8-year-old patient named Dario drawing a multi-limbed robot who, according to Dario, could build and design himself any new robot-components that he needed. Torres suddenly realized: What if kids with prosthetics could do the exact same thing as that self-fixing robot?

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Torres's goal with creating the Iko prosthetic was not just to create new functionality for the kids who will use these devices, but also to smooth the transition of socializing with kids who don't need prosthetics. And what could go further to grease the social wheels than the joys of Lego? And so Iko was born: a white plastic base to which kids can affix Lego pieces to their hearts' content -- moving pieces, light-up pieces, whatever strikes their fancy. Do you want a four-fingered hand today? A flashing light? A spaceship? The sky (and the pieces available in the Lego catalog) is the limit. The device is intended for use by kids between 3 and 12 years of age, and Torres intends to ramp up to full-scale production within the next two years. A small release of 10–15 Iko hands will hopefully be ready to be donated to children in Bogotá by the end of this year, too.

I'm someone who has a plastic garbage can full of my old Lego bricks waiting in the basement until my kids are old enough for them to be beloved toys and not choking hazards. But even if you're the kind of person who spends more time cursing the existence of Lego after stepping on yet another brick in the dark, you can appreciate Lego's ability to bring kids together and to truly change their lives. Being the kid who is "different" might not always feel so good, but being the kid whose arm can turn into a rocket ship or a grabby-claw or a dinosaur head? That sounds like a pretty good deal.

 

Image via Core77 Design Awards / YouTube

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